Review Summary: An excellent alternative rock album full of passion.
Belying the hangman’s noose on the cover, this is one release which will not leave you hanging. American alternative rockers Casey and Cora
have crafted an album which transcends and simultaneously embraces the best qualities of their genre.
From the opening minutes of single “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, the resonating guitar riff leads into an explosive coalition of instruments, and it’s clear that the listener is in for a remarkable experience. The vocals on this and virtually every track are spot on. The delivery is infallible and the melodies are fantastic. The vocalists’ talent is obvious instantly, but it’s in the closing minutes of the opening track where perhaps the greatest display of said talent lies. The frenzied vocal barrage and intermingling of the instrumental component creates one of the most awe-inspiring moments this EP has to offer.
Making the most of their 29 minute running time, this record is free of useless filler tracks and instead contains 6 solid rock songs that skilfully demonstrate the bands aptitude in their profession. The second single released before the final EP, ‘Vultures’, contains the curious idiosyncrasy of some brief saxophone input. It’s not overdone either, but perfectly restrained and only builds on the atmosphere created by the other instruments; never becoming a fixating or distracting piece. Andrew again shows off his impressive vocals and opts for some slower, more reserved lines that build until they are released at the climax of the song.
The drumming throughout the EP brings out the intelligence of the music. The drums aren’t foregrounded, but neither are they forgotten. Instead the drumming plays a complimentary role to the music and adds just what the music is looking for in each instance. The shortest song on the EP, ‘Time and Trouble’, offers some interesting work from the drummer, where the fills become a feature for a few memorable moments. Essentially becoming the backbone to the experimenting guitars on ‘The Dancers’, which go off in their own direction with some tremolo picking in the dying minutes of the tracks runtime, the drummer plays his role with exceptional attention to necessity.
The bass playing is also quite absorbing, especially on tracks such as ‘The Dancers’, where the attention-grabbing guitars are subdued and the drumming is momentarily silenced so that the bass can weave in and out of the vocalists work.
Another nice touch to the EP comes from all the little details sprinkled throughout the EP. Much like the saxophone on ‘Vultures’ a small sample used in the final track is accompanied by the interesting use of a keyboard. There are also occasions where some electronic sounds are used to great effect. The guitar work is certainly a driving force on this EP. The songs are generally centred around the melodious guitar riffs, especially on the mellow number ‘Eyes’ where the first minute or so is focused solely on the guitars and some vocals. The growling guitar intro on final track ‘Fighting Darkness with Darkness’ adds some much needed aggression to the track after the more sombre ‘The Dancers’. The dual guitar partnership present allows the distorted guitar work to strum along in the background while the second guitarist plays some interesting high-note riffs over the top, complimented by the low bass and ever-present drumming.
The song-writing on Martyrs
is evidently where the most commendable effort has been made. All the pieces of this wonderful puzzle have come together and from the smart playing of the drummer, to the additional effects and additional instruments, it is clear that some thought definitely went into this album and its contents; down to the details.
However, there are a few problems that antagonise the pleasurable listening experience that is, regardless, what this EP ends up being. First of all, the lyrics are a little dull at times. They aren’t necessarily bad
, but they are oftentimes cliché or excessively obvious and you can’t help but wonder how much thought went into them. The subject matter is likewise standard fare. Love, struggles and hardships etc. It’s been done before. The redemption comes for Casey and Cora
when tracks such as ‘Vultures’ explore the not-so overdone subject of isolation and rejection, or when the opening track contains some standout lyricism that, while not too well articulated, carries the message effectively and emphasises emotion in the process. The vocalist more that makes up for some shoddy lyricism with fantastic vocals, but the criticism remains.
Another point of concern is how much the tracks rely on the guitars to structure the songs. ‘Eyes’, for example, seems kind of hollow with merely a guitar accompanied by the singer, and whilst a small piece of such an amalgamation might have worked in this song, or elsewhere on the album, it falls flat when such a stretch of time is focused on it. A number of other tracks are too dependent on the guitars and neglect to give the drums and bass some alone time in which to shine their brightest. Although it would be nice to see some gaps filled with the rhythm section allowed to play unobstructed for some short passages, the current system is fantastic and has led to some of the best song-writing and the drummer and bassist compliment the music perfectly, so it is pretty much a matter of taste.
The end product of this EP is an outstanding alternative rock album that is sure to have an impact. Exceptional instrumentation and incredible vocals abound on this album, and solid song-writing permeates this release. Be sure to give it a listen.