Review Summary: Iona Grove's "Breathe" breaks new ground in the metalcore genre.
Denver-based Iona Grove’s debut EP Breathe does much more than its title would suggest. The opening track starts swinging immediately and will routinely open the dance floor in a fury of headbanging and mosh-mongering. While many contemporary metalcore acts would be content with such a description, the dudes in Iona Grove aren’t satisfied with just that. As the vocals come in, the headbanging continues but the group shows off their songwriting talent. The constant tempo changes and chord progressions exceed expectations. The band’s single and second track, “Redwoods,” has clear pop-punk and hardcore elements that add to their versatility. The guitar work is impressive and what’s more, the duo has a chemistry comparable to Circa Survive and August Burns Red while evoking neither and instead establishing their own unique style. Plenty of metalcore acts have starkly defined rhythm and lead guitar players, whereas the guys of Iona Grove share the duties. Outside of the guitar work, it’s apparent to even the amateur listener that the music of Iona Grove demands that each of its members be experts at their instruments. This EP simply wouldn’t have turned out this way without it.
What the listener can love about Breathe is that each song is completely unique; any of the three songs could’ve been the single. The bridge of “Redwoods” serves as the very middle of the EP and evokes its title. This key moment is a break from the chaos surrounding it and seems to echo over the hills of the album artwork. The only clean vocals on the album are tastefully inserted here in the middle: “And it’s your ghost I see / And it’s your ghost I believe.” A mystic middle, a moment to breathe.
Can this band pull off this material live" you might ask. Upon seeing them perform, one can only conclude that the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Have you ever been into a band because the production quality and songwriting was incredible but then saw that band live and it just didn’t live up to expectations" Yeah, me too. Unlike those disappointments, Iona Grove delivers in their debut EP Breathe. Do yourself a favor and listen to them.