Solid State Records has been trotting out an impressive array of young, heavy-hitting metal/hardcore bands lately, as their recent "Young Bloods" tours can attest. Having rocked stages with The Chariot, August Burns Red, Twelve Gauge Valentine and Destroy The Runner earlier this year, Inhale Exhale is the latest Solid State band vying for its fans' listening attention. Off-handedly, perhaps the most interesting fact about this band is that their bass player had previously played with Relient K. Now counting Brian Pittman (yes, that Brian Pittman) among their ranks, Inhale Exhale present a promising debut in The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred, a thematic look into God's love ("the sacred") and how it affects those who are lost and seeking healing in their lives.
Initially, the most impressive element of Inhale Exhale's debut is its incredibly focused attack. The record's eleven songs rush by without much hesitation or pause, showcasing the band's musical ferocity, which is unparalleled even by hardcore's standards. The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred is unwavering in its aggressiveness and those uninitiated to the heavier side of Christian music could easily be overwhelmed by the record's blistering torrent of riffs and distortion. It's a tight and unrelenting album that follows the metal/hardcore blueprint to a tee and although some songs employ melodic, cleanly-sung choruses here and there, Inhale Exhale stick to a straightforward approach more often than not and pummel listeners with a resolute intensity that hardcore-heads will surely appreciate. Inhale Exhale may be loud, but they do loud skillfully well and as a result, The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred remains quite listenable in its entirety.
The problem with this band though, lies not in their competency but in the context. As praiseworthy as their debut is, this praise becomes somewhat diluted by the fact that much the same thing can be said about a myriad of other projects on the Solid State roster. The fact that the paragraph above could have just as easily been written about Thrill Seeker or Burning Bridges says a lot about the innate interchangeability of a band like Inhale Exhale. The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred may be a thoroughly engaging-and perhaps even a rewarding-listen, but unfortunately it's just not an overwhelmingly original experience and that, in itself, is more than enough to undermine the unparalleled musicianship and unmitigated visceral thrill that this record has to offer.
Don't get me wrong: without the inevitable comparisons, Inhale Exhale are pretty good. However, once stacked up against the rest of Solid State's impressive roster, their awesomeness and individuality diminishes somewhat and competency, suddenly, just doesn't sound as good. Fans can treat this assertion as either a good thing or a bad thing: those looking to add another solid post-hardcore band to their already stately (yep, I doubled the pun) collection would do well to pick up The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred. Those who are looking for something different, though, can tune their ears elsewhere. The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred may be a satisfying thrill, but it is a familiar one that doesn't take you anywhere you haven't already been.- Review date: 12/24/06, written by Sherwin Frias
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