Review Summary: The Greatest of All Lost Arts might not bring it's greatest kung fu skills but it still has a quality kick.L
ower Definition isn’t a band that you’re going to hear about through a television commercial or an online advertisement. Matter of fact the only reason I got interested with this band was because of a sampler CD where they were placed right on the middle of it. The song I heard was “The Weatherman” which still sticks out to my listening taste buds as an intriguing song. Thinking up a math formula to really get in depth with this post-hardcore act really leads me to three bands that really are similar in different aspects. The vocals seem to be inspired by GlassJAw which works well for the most part (if not a tad too whiney). The song constructions remind me of Hopesfall, very fluent and active as it is slow and moving as well. The interesting guitar work by the band takes a lot of cues from the old material from As Cities Burn. It’s fast and bi-polar with lead riffs entangled with one and other. If any of these bands have caught your attention before then it’s almost certain that you should give The Greatest Of All Lost Arts
. If you’ve hit a homerun liking what I just described then all you really need to do is get this album and notice the modern-“ness” and similarities of all the above bands mentioned. After all Hopesfall is dead, As Cities Burn has moved in direction of sound, and no one really knows what GlassJAw is doing. For me this album was a piece of nostalgia from a genre that I’ve started growing out of. Still as I listen to this LP I can’t help be reminded of the days of High School where as “hard” as my listening pleasures went was Hopesfall and GlassJAw.
The Greatest of All Lost Arts
The album introduces itself with a soft and melodically strummed acoustic with dissonant lead riffs in the distance of the background. When the song opens up it really pummels the listener who expected to be lullabied into the album. It’s deceiving and unpredictable, much like the whole album. The vocals right off the start are very long and drawn out with emphasis to the last letter of each word sung. The song construction has already exhibited multiple personalities in “To Satellite”. It starts off soft and melodic, goes into a pummeling frenzy, and breaks down. The screams are a surprising additive which seem brash for such melodic singing. I’m not talking about the metal-core style of singing which is basically talking softly into a microphone but actual singing. “The Ocean, The Beast!” starts off in rising notions. The song builds up and unloads but this time feels expected after the previous song. The crunch of the guitars with the double bass really puts the listener up against the wall wanting to move. At moments of the song it feels like the wall of sound is huge with so much going on. The drums will roll all over you when you least expect it. The guitars which feel like the focal point of instrumentals unload such a relentless attack on the listener. The bass which is a real hidden gem is active and moving all around the rest of the instruments. When each song is almost over 3 minutes long, these instrumentals are a true puzzle to discover on your own.
“Miami Nights” is a break from the action with a very bluesy reverb’ed guitar tone. The song is slower than the previous and focuses more on the vocals and lyrics. More than ever you’ll notice the similarities of Daryl Palumbo even questioning if it’s him doing the vocals for this band. The song feels more oriented to a pop nature and then unloads a random breakdown which really does feel thrown in just for the hell of it. Still with that being said the lead guitar proposes a lot of interesting lead licks with different variants. The singing will either soothe you to the end of the winding 4 minute track or get a bit annoying depending on whether you can accept the vocal passage of not. “The Choreographer” reminds me a lot of Hopesfall “The Satellite Years”. Instrumentals create an atmospheric like ambience and still feel active to the listener and not too distant. I feel like vocally this is one of the higher rated tracks for me. It felt like Matt Geise tried to establish an identity and was somewhat successful in doing so instead of being viewed as a total knockoff. The mixture of an acoustic guitar and a clean electric create some beautiful parallels at the end of the mix. “Versus, Versace” is one of the first songs to start off with screaming and I felt it coming with the barrage of drums to start off the song. The song continues in with its reloading/unloading assault of clean to heavy formation and then unloads a fantastic hook. “Don’t cross the line” repeated multiple times really feels like a passionate and sincere hook. It feels like a subtle climax that the listener was wanting all along.
“Pueblo Cicada” is most likely a fan favorite for the guest vocals done by Jonny Craig (Emarosa/Dance Gavin Dance). The song feels like it could be a Dance Gavin Dance track with the way the instrumentals are at a pop-punk tempo and really clicky. The difference here is that Matt Geise does most of the vocals until the outro is when Jonny Craig steps in. The song is more oriented to the singing stance of the band and Jonny Craig does an outstanding but limited job. His vocals tease you about midway in doing some background harmonies but unmistaken ably present. When he comes in you’ll know it’s him and be pleasantly surprised on the first listen since it’s only mentioned in the linear notes that he’s a guest vocalist. The song ends with them both filled up with harmonizing vocals. The taste of Daryl Palumbo and Jonny Craig doing a duet can get any scene kid wet in the pants. “His Silent Film” is a taste of the band getting repetitive in overall song presentation. Something that I don’t think I’ve ever felt when listening to GlassJAw and Hopesfall. As the band continues to create tasteful hooks the songs will start wearing down on the listener after a handful of listens. The most tasteful of them in this song is the soft and slowed down part which really grooves with a bass line and softly picked guitars. “The Ventriloquist” is a song that begins showing the bands redeeming qualities. The fast bright leads with the guitar and the heavy crunches shown in breakdowns. Its real redeeming quality is the ability to produce after a breakdown without becoming lazy and just mellowing out.
The screams toward the end of song create a new spectrum of aggressiveness and really stand out but are a prelude to an upcoming song.
“If We Speak Quietly” might not be that song but has teased me to what I knew was coming ahead. This song feels more like a heavy set lullaby for the listener. The rhythms and rhymes are cookie cut but nonetheless fluent. The vocals in this song also further the identity of Matt Geise who never quite finds his identity fully in this album. The screaming sometimes feels too much of a forced quality just to jive with a scene that’s focused and ready for it.
Though I say this, I’m also pleased to be serenaded with the throaty screams but that’s for me to say because I’m more oriented to heavier sounds now (which usually consist of a more throaty way of expression ;)). “The Weatherman” was the first song I ever heard from this band and now probably my second favorite (Pueblo Cicada being first). This song is everything that got me hooked on this band. It’s schizophrenic like guitar work and fast style really went over well with me. This song really molds everything that the band does really well in terms of soft and heavy aspects. Now that I look back it, it was the ideal song for the band to make as a single and to put on a sample CD or I might’ve overlooked them. The scream at 1:50 is an eye opening surprise to the listener. It spans out for almost 10 seconds to the point where you could see the vocal cords vibrating through the headphones.
Yes that’s a cool hook in my book but what’s up with the
“woahs” & “yeahs after the fact" Also the line of “the flowers are fake” feel like it’s more oriented to band lyrics of Alesana or something. “Namaskar” is the finale of The Greatest Of All Lost Arts
is a real game changer. It starts off real slow and melodic but unlike any other song on the album and stays that way for most of the beginning. It feels like a real finale that gives a nice summary of everything the band did except being cut short since it’s the shortest track of the album.
If We Speak Quietly
Lower Definition is a post-hardcore band coming out of an ever evolving San Diego scene. As they are on a major label many people will never see the light of day of this band simply because they are a “small” band on a major label.
As when I think of Ferret Records the first 3 bands that come to mind are Every time I Die, Misery Signals, and Zao- do the same with yourself if you’re a label follower, and I bet Lower Definition won’t be included. I guess somewhat of a goal in writing this review is to publicize in a fair manner. As Lower Definition takes cues from Hopesfall and GlassJAw they don’t quite compare to those two bands. Even on the bands MySpace they list GlassJAw as an influence but I’m one who’s going to say that there are no other Daryl Palumbo’s. With that being said the vocals are very close to some of the classiest vocals displayed on “Worship & Tribute”. The instrumentals on this album are very tightly knit but I’d like to see more diversity in song structure as some of the songs novelty wears off in time. Overall this is an enjoyable, fun listen for fans who strive in the post-hardcore (melodic:scream) area. For fans of GlassJAw or Hopesfall should definitely give this a shot. They will be rekindled with the love of those two bands.
+ Creative moments
+ Solid as an album
- Repetitive song structure
- Tiring vocals
- Brings nothing new to the table
Original Release Date: July 8, 2008
Produced By: Lower Definition and Kris Cummett
Label: Ferret Records
Tino Arteaga - Drums
Eddy Marshburn - Guitar
Stefan Toler - Bass
Matt Geise - Vocals