There's always quite a bit of wondering when a member of a popular band leaves to start a new musical project. "Is it going to sound like his old band or something completely different?" And it can go either way. Reese Roper's 2004 band Roper sounded somewhat similar to Five Iron Frenzy, but Ben Gibbard's emotronic project, The Postal Service, sounds nothing like his main act, Death Cab For Cutie. Now it's Jimmy Ryan's turn. The former screamer from metalcore band Haste The Day makes his return with The Tide Will Swallow Us Whole, the debut album from Solid State newcomers, Trenches.
Let's just get that out of the way right now. The vocals are pretty much the only thing that carried over from Haste The Day, and even those aren't quite the same. You can still tell it's Jimmy, but the screams also somewhat resemble that of older ZAO. The Tide Will Swallow Us Whole is heavy, but more experimental and ambient than Haste The Day, and the songs are generally at a slower tempo.
Once we get past the similarities and differences, we can get to the quality of the new project. The prodution is great, as you would expect from Solid State Records, and the band members were well-selected. Phil Hook's drumming is tight, some of the best heard in recent memory, and the guitars often present a beautiful dichotomy of melodic and rough. The musicianship is fantastic, but aside from that in itself, there comes a problem. Though power is certainly not lacking on this album, there are times where the songs just seem to drag, namely in the middle of the album ("Bittersweet" is over seven minutes long, and "Call It Correct" is over six), and on the very last song, "Cornered," which ends up being a painful thirteen and a half minutes in length. Lengthy songs have to keep the listeners' attention (such as Relient K's "Deathbed," or Anberlin's "(*Fin)"), and those that Trenches provides fail to do so, especially the last six or so minutes of "Cornered" which is just the same ambient sound repeating on and on, with a little bit of almost-aimlessly-played piano, until it eventually just fades out. It's almost enough to put you to sleep.
While the talent of this new group cannot be denied - and no doubt there will be a lot of hardcore fans blasting this in their stereo - it's hard to say that The Tide Will Swallow Us Whole is a great way to start their career. Because of the incredible musicianship, I can't help but expect great things for the future of Trenches. But because of the boringness of a good portion of the album, Trenches failed to truly impress.- Review date: 9/13/08, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Solid State Records
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