Review Summary: A Rock Band the Likes of Which You've Never Heard.
Over the past few years, I've noticed a fairly disturbing school of thought developing amongst both my fellow musicians and music aficionados; the possibility that in our current age music has already reached its zenith of creativity and now has nothing new left to explore. I for one, while disenchanted in many ways by the current state of music, find this to be excessively skeptical (and that's coming from a class A cynic). So, how do I justify this view? Unsigned artists, The Smyrk, hailing from my hometown of New Haven Connecticut, are a strong piece of evidence for my case.
The Smyrk at their core are a rock band and yet, they do not fit any known sub-categorization of the genre I can think of. Imagine a modernized Led Zeppelin infused with post-hardcore rhythms and jazzy chord progressions. Now picture this collective fronted by Marvin Gaye and you have only the vaguest idea of what The Smyrk actually sound like. On paper I'll admit that even I would be a bit skeptical of such a disparate stylistic meshing; I can think of plenty of genre bending groups that create only mediocre, or worse novel results from such experimentations, however these guys are more than up to the task.
The album or really EP, ushers in the listener with a brief piano introduction before letting all hell break lose in the title cut. Fiery power chords, At the Drive in-esque leads, forceful drums, and soulful crooning greet the unprepared audience before spiraling into a gloriously epic conclusion all in the course of about two and a half minutes. After just barely providing a chance for the listener to catch his/her (to be politically correct here) breath the band launches in to the groovy funk/punk assault of "It's Not Love" and "That Ain't Lake Minnetonka," a track that begs for radio play. The latter track is ironically my least favorite of the bunch, but it is none the less a well written song that shows the group's clear accessibility in spite of their experimental base.
As solid as the first half of the EP is, the second really shows what the band is all about. "Sweeter Cyanide" is a roaring funky track with some killer drum breaks and intense vocals and "Cope Aesthetic" is actually a re-recording of an older song that shows the true diversity of the group in its punk-fueled choruses, jazzy verses, and rocking Zeppelin-ean bridge. Finally the disk reaches a heart-wrenching climax in the form of "Shot and Buried (Sudan)" which displays the band's more polemic side. The song dives head-first into the dicey issue of American apathy toward world suffering with gripping lines like "Calling for help, but nobody's listening-Crawling through hell, but nobody's listening-So they die." Heavy stuff indeed. The song is full of dynamic shifts and breaks which also really serve to show the group's talent for more ambitious compositions.
Musically the band does not disappoint. The guitars and bass weave maniacally in and out of each other with searing precision. Some of the leads on the album are also surprising technical for band of this genre. The drummer, put simply, is a beast, hammering out monstrous grooves and wild fills while still complementing the music perfectly. As for the vocals only the most jaded music purist will find fault, with vocalist, Doron Flake's rich, dynamic voice. These performances are also undoubtedly enhanced by the extremely professional production employed throughout the disk. These guys really sound like a signed band.
So, there you have it. Living proof that creativity and innovation have not become fabled terms in regard to modern music. Anyone looking for something new and exciting to chew on, look no further.