Review Summary: Just as it is bursting ecstatically into bloom.
Rites of Spring was a hardcore punk outlet that is considered to be one of the founding fathers of emo music. While the term is mostly glued onto the bands name, Rites of Spring is much more then your every day emo band. Let's wipe away the facts and start over from scratch. Take away all of your knowledge on the band's past, recognition, and sound. Listening to their debut once again, there is breathtaking amounts of balance and composure that cements this band into the history of hardcore punk.
The instruments are ferocious and the vocals are electrifying. Everything Rites of Springs throws at the listener is loud and blistering. The sound contrasts highly from what one might think of when the word "emo" comes to their mind. Rather then taking any pretense for building up poignant progression or trapping the listener in an emotional atmosphere, it instead takes you on a roller coaster ride you will never forget. The heavy emphasis on speedy instrumentation and aggressive vocal pattern are enough to suffice the hardcore punk aspect of the music, but there are still signs of emotional adrenaline that can be perceived through the chaos of the music. Signs of intense anger and hatred in Guy's voice torch the music to cinders. But there are still signs of melodic drive and evocative harmonies in the instruments that seem to dowse the flame. In fact, the instrumental melodies seem to create a perpetual melody at some points throughout the album. Creating a yin and yang in the music that gives the album a lot more depth then its brothers and sisters.
The desperation showcased in the lyrical aspect of the album are intriguing. Even while some of the lyrics are aimed directly at an emotional fury, there are small aching patches of emotional pain shown by Piccioto's wailing vocals. During the conclusion the album, Piccioto wails into the microphone. He repeats the words "End on End" with every bit of energy in his body and it is extremely noticeable that he is embodying his emotion and soul into the music. Its at this climatic conclusion, that the music is much more personal to the band then the listener could ever imagine. This is something that most punk bands at the time did not comprehend, sure the music meant something to the creators; but letting the music devour your emotions was something much more complex.
Its a cliché that with the label of "emo" comes negative reception from the general public. Stripping the album of its garments however shows that the band knows how to create a malevolent beast out of their music. The great hardcore punk bands of today look up to Rites of Spring as a standing ovation. Being both incredibly fast and emotionally significant at the same time is a feat that many have failed to replicate, yet Rites of Spring brings sheer balance to their music that is just exhilarating.