Review Summary: Once again, a post hardcore band attempts to combine their music with good ol' fashion southern rock...but something is different this time around...
The Jonbenet didn't exactly explode
onto the scene with their debut album, The Plot Thickens, but the few who heard it were treated to a delightfully refreshing slice of post hardcore with progressive undertones. Instead of trying to duplicate the sound of their first album, The Jonbenet decided to venture into the realm of southern rock, an idea that has been tried and tried by countless other bands at this point, with very mixed results. Believe it or not, The Jonbenet has succeeded in doing what most others have failed at so many times before.
Most people see southern rock as nothing more than drinking music being played by a bunch of guys in trucker hats and white tank tops, and for the most part this is true. However, there is another side to the coin, and that opposite side is the blues, arguably the genre that southern rock draws from the most. Whereas most southern rock is, for the most part, music you can party to, blues is more about the emotions and feelings behind the music, and this is why most bands have failed to successfully pull off the combination. Its not enough to simply know how to play the music. When blues is involved, you obviously have to know which notes to play, but more importantly you have to know why
those notes need to played. The Jonbenet is one of the few bands that grasps this concept.
As far as the actual content of the album, the music aggressive, raw, and at times, very dark. The blues influences on this album do not come from the realm of the blues legends like B.B. King and Buddy Guy, but instead from the much darker side of the genre that often involves the selling of ones soul to the devil in exchange for fame and fortune. Instrumentally, all aspects of the band, including the production, add to the raw and aggressive feel of the music. The guitar provides a rather menacing atmosphere by combining the heavy and dissonant post hardcore riffs with an ample amount of bluesy southern rock flair. The rhythm section is one of the more solid ones to be found in the genre. The drums provide constantly shifting rhythms and technical fills, and the bass (which is pleasantly audible) does a great job of providing both an excellent low end and, at times, taking the forefront with interesting basslines and fills.
While the instruments provide top notch performances on all fronts, the real draw for me is the ever so interesting vocal and lyrical work of Michael Murland. Throughout the album Murland constantly switches from throaty shouting, desperate yelping, screams that appear to be tearing his vocal chords, and even growling vocals at points, and each one of his vocal deliveries are easily distinguishable from other vocalists in the genre. The lyrics also add to the aggressive and slightly threatening tone. The best example of this is the second half of Eating Lightning Part II.
"A companionship broken for greed
A companionship broken for green secret agendas
Rendezvous never spoken of behind the backs of the ones you loved.
You could have been there till the end, The bitter end when you said that it was go time.
Well you should have listened
It's your time to go. "
While this album may not be the most groundbreaking thing to come out of the genre this year, it is definitely one of the most refreshing. The band clearly knows exactly
what direction they want to go in and it really shows in their music. The only complaint I have is that the album drags ever so slightly in the middle, but the final few tracks, including the near 9 minute closer Hearts In The Jar, make up for it nicely. The album does miss out on being nearly perfect, but not by a whole lot. So if you're looking for a refreshing post hardcore album with a twist, you shouldn't pass this album up.