Review Summary: A coherent musical journey through the mind of Thomas Giles Rogers.
The release of Pulse
by Between the Buried and Me
frontman Thomas Giles Rogers, under the simplified moniker Thomas Giles
, nullified any doubts fans of the group may have had about Tommy’s musical ability. Pulse
was overflowing with ambition, from the bombastic lead single ‘Sleep Shake’, the broken electro-experimental ‘Catch & Release’, to the ominous piano melody at the end of the fantastic progressive whirlwind that is ‘Mr. Bird’. That’s not to say it was a perfect album, though. Many ideas were perhaps too far-fetched for their own good – on a track-by-track basis there wasn’t much cohesion to be found. Regardless, the fact remains that Pulse
was a healthy reminder that Tommy Rogers plays as integral a role in the band as the rest of Between the Buried and Me. Now, on Thomas Giles’ sophomore release Modern Noise
, the one-man-band (with the addition of former band member Will Goodyear on drums) shows a few new tricks up his sleeve while ironing out the songwriting kinks present in Pulse
, resulting in a cohesive, wholly impressive addition to Mr. Rogers catalog and the genre of prog rock itself.
The biggest improvement from Thomas Giles’ debut is the fact that Modern Noise
feels like a full album rather than a collection of tracks. A smooth, crystal clear production job by Jamie King provides a beautiful atmospheric tapestry for the singer-songwriter to stretch and mold to his liking. Rather than opening with a massively grandiose single, Modern Noise
eases you in with what sounds like a long lost B-side from Radiohead
sessions. ‘Wise and Silent’ is an ethereal instrumental that serves as both the foundation for the rest of the record and also as one of the album’s numerous highlights. ‘Mutilated World’, one of the album’s more accessible cuts, demonstrates Rogers’ knack for building layers upon layers of varying textures, allowing for a wall-of-sound effect in the song’s climax. Other standout moments include the guest solo from fellow band mate Paul Waggoner on ‘I Appear Disappear’, the electro-gothic vibe throughout ‘We Wander Lonely’ which itself sounds like Slipknot
’s ‘Vermillion’ stripped down and industrialized in the most pleasant way possible, and the eponymous closer that combines Rogers’ talent for building up tension and releasing it, closing the album with the sense of completeness and satisfaction that was absent from Pulse
From a technical standpoint, Tommy Rogers has certainly come into his own on Modern Noise
. His instrumental skills have improved vastly on all fronts – guitar, vocals, and programming – which allowed him to explore a variety of different styles while sounding completely authentic in doing so. The aforementioned organ driven ‘We Wander Lonely’ is juxtaposed between two of the most different tracks on the album. ‘Blueberry Queen’ acts as a callback to the early 20th century jazz scene with a laid-back bluesy feel and Tommy’s low, drunken timbre alluding to what you’d hear at an old smoky tavern in the ‘20s. On the other hand, ‘M3’ is one of the more straightforward tracks on Modern Noise
– a guitar driven rock song with circus-esque overtones a la BtBaM, topped with an incredibly infectious vocal motif in the chorus. Tommy also debuts a new tonal yelling tactic on ‘Siphon the Bad Blood’ giving the chorus a heavy metal feel. He does this without drifting into his usual hardcore screams, which are nowhere to be found on Modern Noise
; and thankfully so, because they really wouldn’t fit anywhere on the record organically.
Mind you, Modern Noise
does have its faults. All songs are structured very well, which itself is great, but some of the longer tracks tend to dip into predictable territory as the songs progress due to their formulaic nature. Also, while no song stands out as a dud, the album does lose some steam near the end, at least until ‘Modern Noise’ wraps up the listening experience with a tightly knit bow. Modern Noise
isn’t revolutionary in the progressive rock scene, and it doesn’t try to be – it’s simply a coherent musical insight into the mind of Thomas Giles Rogers, and due to his flourishing talent, happens to be quite a beautiful journey.
Wise and Silent
We Wander Lonely