Review Summary: A poignant goodbye.
Simply put, Penfold were one of the best bands of all time. They perfected the quiet-loud technique first introduced by genre pioneers Christie Front Drive and Mineral. They had the short, succinct, and poetic lyrics that elevated them beyond their contemporaries. They were everything wonderful and meaningful about 90’s midwestern emo wrapped up in a beautiful bow. All good things eventually come to an end, and like most bands from the era, they were just a two album flash in the pan.
picks up right where Penfold left off. The Moirai were Penfold minus original bassist Stephan Jones so it’s easy to see why. It has everything you want in a midwestern emo album in a time the genre was fading headfirst into obscurity. The glorious and emotion-soaked builds and artful lyrics were still there and done masterfully. There is real craftsmanship here. Vocalist Brian Carley is one of the best of the genre and he continues to showcase his talents here. He is what makes these bands all click together, and had he been a lesser vocalist, I’m not sure how good these bands could have been. He has the ability and range to make you feel his heartfelt lyrics. You experience the sweeping emotion he pours into every word, rivaling even the legend that is Chris Simpson of Mineral.
These are some of the best lyrics ever penned on an emo album, a genre that can often come across as cheesy and on the nose. Not many have the ability to write about love, loss and relationships the way Carley does. “Last Year for Halloween I was a Ghost” is a gut wrenching track about a past relationship where his lyrics shine through. On it, Carley cries out, “If you’re still in love is it criminal to let our ghosts dance in the park alone”, an artful and thoughtful line about his past love. He has a tremendous range for an emo vocalist which fluctuates a lot depending on where the song goes. This is where the magic happens. He goes from his soft, delicate crooning to impassioned yells when the builds start to peak and that is where he shines. Carley also has a soothing falsetto, which shouldn’t really work on this, but it absolutely hits the mark. It’s a mesmerizing, virtuosic performance that will leave you speechless, a landmark of the genre.
The vocals are definitely not all that’s special on this album though, with the layered, complex guitarwork that is also up to the lofty standards Penfold set. This is a band absolutely firing on all cylinders and features some of the best songwriting they’ve ever done. The same haunting, atmospheric and melancholic melodies are executed beautifully like true masters of their craft; the ones that lull you to sleep only to later explode into dazzling and gratifying crescendos. It’s an incredibly potent combination when paired with Carley’s vocal performance. The guitarwork couldn’t matchup better and help create an emotional atmosphere. On the closer “Empathy for the Enemy/Hostile to the Helpless” is where this is most apparent and the guitar does most of the talking. The first 4 minutes are a sprawling post-rock esque epic with a slow moving build erupting into cascading drums and gorgeous melodies topped off with a scream. The last 4 minutes smoothly transition into a more traditional emo song capped off with Carley’s passionate wailing of a lost love. The perfect end to a near perfect album as it slowly fades to black.
This was the last we heard from the guys from Penfold. Bury Yourself
was one of the last breathes of a dying genre that would regroup years later but never sound quite the same as it once was. It was the passing of the torch that never shined as bright: the end of an era.