Review Summary: A lasting impression.
Life is uncertainty. Throughout the everyday trials and tribulations we face as human beings, from our most loving embraces all the way to our most painful defeats, time slowly withers us away until we are ultimately nothing but dust. If one thing is
certain, it's that one day we will all give up the ghost like billions before us have. With such a startling realization, we can either allow the ever looming shadow of the reaper to consume our minds, or we can find purpose and meaning before we meet our fate. With this life comes change, and growth as a human being. With love, compassion, and understanding we can learn that human existence is more than just slaving away in a cubicle for 40 years until we grow old, decrepit, and hollow. Life certainly fluctuates in interesting ways. Somewhere wading in between a sea of melancholic deep blue and white hot aggression lies San Francisco screamo quartet, Loma Prieta.
Formed in 2005, the band are no strangers to the ever flowing current of change. One constant that remains however is Loma Prieta's ability to express a tornado of emotions through their music. Since the humble beginnings of 2008's Last City
the band has been making waves in the underground screamo community with their loud, face melting aggression and subsequently soothing the burn with melodic waves of guitar and pulsating bass that wash over the listener like a calming rainfall. More impressive however, is the drumwork of longtime member Valeriano Saucedo, whose clean and precise work behind the kit is much to be admired. There is a level of satisfaction in Saucedo's drumming that not many drummers can achieve, among the same category as Vincent Roseboom of legendary NYC screamo act Gospel. The strained shrieks of Sean Leary and gruff, withered yells of Brian Yanagaki also drive the band's loud, commanding sound to even greener pastures. Following the underground success of Last City
the band seemed to lock into that particular groove with 2009's Dark Mountain
and 2010's Life/Less.
While this formula certainly worked well for them and proved Loma Prieta's worth among their contemporaries (Jeromes Dream, City of Caterpillar, Gospel, Birds in Row) they were facing the same risk that every great band faces at some point, becoming complacent. And thus, life's uncertainty rears its ugly head once again. What would the future hold for Loma Prieta? Would they succumb to being another solid emotional hardcore band with a small cult following, or would there be new heights on the horizon...?
Every screamo fan knows what these Roman numerals mean, and just how influential they are. Just what do they represent, you might ask? Well, let's dive into Loma Prieta's magnum opus and most powerful work of art. From the suffocating walls of guitar and noisy atmosphere, to the most emotionally heart wrenching ending the band has ever conceived in the form of Fly By Night, 2012's I.V.
is an incredibly dense, abrasive mass of complex songwriting and emotional catharsis. Packed to the brim with intensity, this album isn't for the faint of heart. Where I.V.
exhausts, following release Self Portrait
allows to breathe. Focused much more on melodic songwriting and dare I say, accessibility; the near "hit" level of screamo songs "Love" and "Roadside Cross" proved that Loma Prieta can write catchy hooks and add a somewhat anthemic spark to their formula. So with all that being said, where does that leave us now 8 years later?
was an immense, swirling mass of chaos and emotion nearing the intensity of powerviolence, and Self Portrait
showed the band at their most melodic and vulnerable, Last
finds itself floating along the ether and drifting through a sea of brilliant blue. From the ghostly spoken word and gripping melodic guitar washed over lush, fluttering piano passages in "NSAIDs" to the loud, abrasive heavy hitter "Sunlight" as well as the spectacular culmination of Loma Prieta's finest elements in the form of "Symbios" the album seamlessly weaves in and out of different dimensions. American Football-esque "Circular Saw" may leave you scratching your head at first, wondering why you shouldn't just be listening to Never Meant and crying about your high school sweetheart breaking up with you. Until the track takes a drastic, explosive turn towards slapping you in the face repeatedly and blowing your eardrums to smithereens while Sean and Brian scream their heads off about how much corporate greed sucks. This song will definitely leave you sweating bullets by the end.
Where the album truly shines however, is the absolutely gorgeous, ethereal monolith of a penultimate track "Glare." This particular gem is the pinnacle of Last's
direction as an album and one that will certainly leave a "last"
ing impression (sorry.) A pretty introduction passage led by soothing melodic guitars, Leary's enchanting spoken word, and of course Saucedo's blissful drumming slowly blossoms into a large scale grandiose epic showcasing all the new tricks the band has up their sleeve. A radiant marriage of melody and aggression, this song is a triumphant work of art. "No one could ever take your place, but I try."
Loma Prieta has proven once again that change isn't always a bad thing, while still remaining true to themselves. Last
is an incredibly interesting listen that will leave you floating through a different state of consciousness (dreamlessnessless?
) and make you reflect on your life and the ultimate insignificance we all succumb to eventually. From Last City
all the way to Last...
if this is Loma Prieta's farewell, then they have certainly proven their worth as an underground screamo band, and this is a swan song not soon to forget.