Review Summary: A pleasant mid-2000s nostalgia trip with some new fresh ideas.
Wearing one’s influences on their sleeve is oftentimes considered a weakness but for Colorado Springs based trio Comrades, it serves as one of their greatest strengths. The nostalgic factor of their Facedown debut Lone/Grey
is absolutely undeniable. From the first seconds of the opening track, the listener is treated to echoey guitar reminiscent of Vheissu-era Thrice and the croon of vocalist/bassist Laura McElroy. As the track grows, a play is introduced between both aforementioned clean vocals and the powerful harsh vocals (think Dustin Kensrue meets The Ocean) of drummer/vocalist Ben Trussell. It’s all just a huge nostalgia trip for the days past of early/mid-2000s metallic post-hardcore.
Throughout the record this vocal interplay between the harsh vocals and cleans play a vital and front-and-center role. However, the harsh vocals are sprinkled in a way throughout the album that they don’t overstay their welcome or make the songs feel too “metal” inspired. Laura’s gentle soprano is the voice heard most, and while she doesn’t do vocal gymnastics or anything too overly technically “difficult”, her voice is still extremely pleasant to listen to and she carries the vocal melodies with a firm confidence. Towards the mid-way point of the record, Ben introduces his warm baritone into the mix. When the two are used simultaneously on “Shepherd’s Hymn” and “Underground Queen” it makes for a really cool dynamic, and when a choral effect a-la My Epic comes into play on uplifting closer “That We May One Day Be The Same”, it’s really pleasing to hear. Lyrically the songs are very poetically written, but do contain lots of Christian themes and imagery. This may be a turn off for some listeners, but it’s also not quite as blatant as some of their other Facedown Records counterparts.
As a 3-piece, the band relies heavily on Joe McElroy’s looping and delay effects to establish multiple layers. His guitar playing throughout the record also takes a front-and-center seat, easily shifting between huge chords and quick, tasteful flourishes of leads. It’s clear names like Teppei Teranishi and Thomas Erak are no stranger to Joe in influencing his lead playing, as oftentimes throughout Lone/Grey
he incorporates hammer-ons and pull-offs to give the songs a kind of frantic feel. When Joe is focusing on leads, Laura (who you can hear clearly throughout the record) quickly changes to playing thick distorted bass chords behind him to fill in the lapse of sound and when the two of them are both playing huge chords it makes for some really big, heavy moments (the most obvious of which are in “Dark Tongues pt. II” and “Empty Frames”). Instances like this are when the more metallic influences shine the most.
On top of vocals throughout the record, Ben also has a really impressive percussive performance. The songs are littered with ghost notes and creative fills. He has a quality that’s very important for a drummer in that he really knows when to play. During the crescendos he is subdued, slowly building the parts to their climax when he opens up the parts by not overplaying to really let Joe and Laura have their spotlights. It’s during the soft, clean parts that Ben really has his best work, as this is when you most obviously hear his intricate tom beats and little percussive nuances. He is clearly working hard and staying busy behind the kit throughout the record, but never enough to take away from what else is going on musically. It’s expertly done, and from a band who has never recorded a full-length before, it’s very impressive.
The nostalgia factor is hard to deny on Lone/Grey
, and really gives it a feeling of flashing back to the golden times of this style of music. Sometimes the influences are a little blatant (some of those guitar parts seems almost directly bitten from Thrice’s Vheissu
or Alchemy Index
Fire EP) but it’s accompanied with fresh ideas that don’t feel too recycled. This album may be a blast from the past but it certainly hasn’t all been done this way before. The blend of post-metal crescendo building and dynamic use with the instant gratification of mid 2000s post-hardcore is a great combination that Comrades really is on their way to perfecting, and with Lone/Grey
they are well on their way to becoming a musical powerhouse to be reckoned with.