Review Summary: One of the most artistically unique and impassioned affairs in recent memory.
1347 - Calais, France - Amidst the Hundred Years' War - King Edward III lays siege on the city and condemns the entire population to mass slaughter. As the fleeting hope for the civilians of Calais dissipates, Edward reluctantly agrees to spare the citizens if six of the most important members of the Calais society would come to him prepared to see the end of their lives. They marched, barefoot and void of head-covering to the King, bearing the ropes that would seal their fate.
Locktender (Ex - Men As Trees) is a hardcore influenced post-metal group, who bring a very strong sense of unique creativity as well as emotion to their music, focusing lyrically, (as well as thematically, and instrumentally) on works of acclaimed artists, painters, writers, and sculptors. Locktender's previous work saw them expertly diving into the Zarau Aphorisms of writer Franz Kafka. They have returned in dynamic fashion to elaborate musically on various works of sculptor Auguste Rodin, including his most famous piece The Thinker.
As truly intellectual as this album is, they do not for one moment stray from their roots. The raw emotion conveyed is unparalleled and insurmountably powerful. Each and every aspect of this record breathes with dynamic feeling. The writing is extremely moving with soaring guitars whirling energetic chords through the hair at lightning pace, cascading down into brooding and droning instances that entrance and encompass the listener, and then on to epic post-rock build ups that glue you to your seat in anticipation. The production is not glistening and shiny, but rather gritty and brittle. The frailty and crunch of the production aids in the cathartic nature of the record. The album is not void of all fault, but they are few and far between. Some of the clean vocals seem to be a little too muffled and filtered, and some of the guitar bleed-through can cloud the stereo field. Spare those few chance occasions, the artistic imperfections are null.
Vocalist Nick Yonce conveys their emotion and the despair of their music with his gruff harsh vocals. His delivery is blatantly unique, mixing aggressive and energetic mid-low scream/yells with crushing low growls as well as some cathartic hardcore-esque ranting. Andrew Kallicragas is an exceptional guitarist and while the style is not overly-technical, he utilizes a variety of technical skills to deliver various incredibly impassioned segments of music. On top of that he adds various clean vocal lines that compliment the chaos very well. Jason Kallicragas is equally as proficient on the bass guitar, and adds a beautifully executed layer to the harsh vocals with some very heavy and full vocal lines. The thing that really tops off the sound of Locktender is the man behind the kit. Frank Tedeschi again doesn't bring the most overly technical beats, but rather the most energetic and truly fitting percussion lines. Altogether, the 4 individuals come together in precisely the right way to convey such uplifting music with the perfect amount are energy and intellect.
The song that stands out the most would most definitely be "The Burghers of Calais". Clocking in at right around the 19-minute mark, this epic slab remains not only interesting and diverse, but atmospherically executed with a sense of perfection that is rarely found in music. The track begins with an eerie guitar line that haunts, and then the song continues on with its ebbs-and-flows swaying merrily (crushingly) throughout. Entangling simple post-rock aesthetic brilliantly with hardcore-influenced post-metal and a progressive tendency unlike any other. At one point in the track around the 14-miunte area, all instrumentation and vocals drop out aside from the drums, which carry on in a fashion indicative of marching. The drums are marching and leading the Calais sacrifices to King Edward III for execution. A solemn guitar hammering on notes comes in as the layers build to point where a seemingly schizophrenic man begins to talk/sing his way into a dichotomy with a yell the pleads "who will save them"" The amps feedback as the song fizzles to a touchingly beautiful guitar walks the song to its conclusion.
This group is one of the most unique and original groups to surface in modern music, and I would recommend this to anyone who likes anything post-rock/metal, hardcore, screamo, or progressive-rock related. In actuality though, i would recommend this to anyone in search of a piece of music with a unique sense of creativity, for its aura is exclusively their own, and is as smart and deep as it is cathartic and riddled with emotion and power.
Album streaming at - http://www.scenepointblank.com/news/records/2014/03/02/spb-exclusive-stream-locktender/