Review Summary: Shane Oschner's done it again.
After 2013’s Phoenix, I was wondering how Everything in Slow Motion would follow up their (or should I say his) debut full-length. Three years later, we have a new EP, Laid Low, which is a very interesting transition considering how well Phoenix was received. Despite this, I don’t think the direction chosen by recording an EP is a bad idea, because in actuality I adore Laid Low, and it’s a great follow-up that leaves me wanting more.
I originally got into Everything in Slow Motion from the former band of the vocalist and single member who leads EISM, a post-metal band called Hands that broke up right before he started this project. Shane Ochsner, the mind behind Everything in Slow Motion, knows how to create an ethereal atmosphere better than any other artist (with the possible exception of My Epic or A Hope For Home) on Facedown Records. I grew up with the Facedown catalogue, and although I really miss the old Hands records, I’ve been getting even more immersed with the progressive/post-rock/post-hardcore direction Ochsner has pursued. That being said, you’ll still find an underlying metal sound that alternates between groovy and soaring sections.
Laid Low might not seem very cohesive at times, considering how eclectic it can be. To me, the songs all have their own original flare, but still fit with the atmosphere that Ochsner has molded into his own diverse style. However, I found that it didn’t make much of a difference playing the EP from front to back or shuffling it. Even so, Laid Low feels like a good jumping off point for Ochsner to experiment even further, because I feel as if these songs are strong enough that they could have supported a full-length album.
With Laid Low having so much variety, I found myself reminded of Saosin, especially during the fourth track, “Runaway.” I was definitely reminded of Ochsner’s post-metal roots during the first song, “Coma,” which builds up a lot of ambient distortion, but the breakdown at the end nailed the chugging post-metal/deathcore-esque heaviness that I was waiting for. And speaking of things I was waiting for: the title track, “I Am Laid Low,” features Ochsner’s harsh vocals that I knew so well from Hands. In some instances, I recalled the whisper-singing style that The Plot In You utilized in their last record, though Ochsner does this in a more intimate way. The second track, “Bad Season,” seems to demonstrate this technique the best.
You’ll find that all the songs start off very soft, but build up monumentally, as is Ochsner’s style. The choruses feature his dynamic soaring vocals, which seem gentle over the heavy down-tuned guitar work. With this in mind, “Runaway” was definitely my favorite song out of them all, because it incorporates the soft atmosphere of post-rock in its beginning, an upbeat chorus/build-up, and an intensely groovy breakdown that has to be the djentiest thing Ochsner has ever done. Never before when listening to Everything in Slow Motion have I wanted to punch a wall so badly.
Throughout all five songs that comprise Laid Low, I was never disappointed in the slightest, and could only say I wished Ochsner had pushed this record even further into a full-length album, because it does feel a tad unfinished. Nevertheless, I found myself immersed and attached to the uniqueness of all the songs on Laid Low. Possibly one of the greatest characteristics of Everything In Slow Motion is Oschner’s knack for weaving riffs and melodies that can soar and crush down to ones that also soften you up for sadder emotions to seep in. If you want a record that you can headbang and cry to, Laid Low might be the one for you.