Review Summary: Kodan Armada write good music.
At the cost of sounding like a bitch, most “tr00 kvlt” emo sucks. Skram, whatever you want to call it, really gets androgynous and repetitive as a whole; whether it’s the terrible production, need to rip each other off excessively, or just a general lack of innovation, just doesn’t appeal to me past the mega-uber-popular bands in the genre. Thus, when you find something like The Kodan Armada (admittedly, very close to being one of those mega-uber-popular bands), you have to be pretty glad. One of the handful of emo bands that sounds like they have crossover public appeal despite their scream-heavy nature, Ohio Killed the Grey Ghost
is the only full length released by the band.
Starting off with “If I Wanted To Hear The Beat Of Your Heart, I Would Rip It Out And Stick It Next To My Ear” (yeah, its an emo album), it begins on a strange note with the singer screaming “There’s a beat in your heart!” and an organ playing behind metal-influenced riffing and “tick tocks.” The song progresses slowly, going from the metal section into a an organ driven section, complete with near spoken word vocals. Just as you think its about to erupt into chaos, the song strangely just fades out. Then “One” kicks on and the chaos that Kodan Armada utilize first rears its head.
Like most other screamo bands, Kodan Armada employ the soft/chaotic dynamic to full effect. The build ups from such moments as the 70’s rock beginning of “Three” into the full on explosion of Saetia like emo back to a mixture of the two in 40 seconds is pure ecstasy, and even though its nothing new in the genre Kodan Armada pull it off so effortlessly you can’t help but enjoy it. The soft moments are reminiscent of 90’s alternative most of the time; hell you can even hear remnants of bands like American Football or the forerunners Cap’n Jazz. The chaotic parts sound like a weird mixture of Saetia, Joshua Fit for Battle and Sunny Day Real Estate. While that last part may not fit, it strangely describes how Cory Popp sings on some of the tracks.
The highlight of the album is “Butterfly Effect,” a mixture of every other song on the album and more epic than anything else here. The arpeggio riffing about a minute into the song is astounding, and the heavy and pounding drumming found in the very bare and minimal chorus juxtaposes perfectly with the metalcore-esque breakdown that immediately follows. The song flows perfectly, and more-so than any other track on the album demonstrates the mastery of progression Kodan Armada already had.
Vocally the album doesn’t shine, but singer Cory Popp does his job admirably. While difficult to understand at most times (difficult enough to where my relatively untrained ear couldn’t decipher enough to effectively analyze their lyrics), he directs his emotion to the perfect spots, sounding non-chalant and stoic when he needs to be and pained when it most suits him.
Kodan Armada certainly aren’t the next revolutionary emo band, nor are they the most technically proficient band, nor are they the most interesting outfit to listen to. What they did with Ohio Killed the Grey Ghost
, however, is craft 6 incredibly tight, emotional, and all around excellent songs. The haunting “Outro” serves as a good end for the album; distant and sweeping, with the return of the organ and a soft chorus of voices behind a poem about futility from Popp. It kind of makes me want to go outside and sit on the grass, staring at the clouds. Except I’m too busy rocking out to this album to work up the drive.