The Angst In My Veins – Capsize: Music Review

Bio

Known primarily for unruly live performances and a powerful stage presence, five piece hardcore outfit, Capsize, have planted a flag on the sunny streets of Southern California with a grimy sound and frenetic pace they wave proudly in their scene. Riding the wave of progressive and melodic hardcore that has caught the ears of fans in the underground and Equal Vision Records, Capsize’s limited discography hasn’t stopped them from relentless touring and rising popularity.

Background

This band was recommended by a friend of mine at Winona Sate last year. She and I shared the same appreciation for Volumes and Texas In July (another band on the Equal Vision roster) and encouraged me to take a listen. I watched the music video to a single from this album and didn’t call it my cup of tea, so I put it on a back burner.

Capsize. Photo Credit: Punktastic
Capsize. Photo Credit: Punktastic

When I began to move past my phase of death metal and settle into tastes with more melody, composition, and rawness, I decided to give Capsize another chance at the beginning of this summer.  I watched the video for Calming, Crippling, and I dug the intensity. I slowly began to digest this album one bite at a time, but haven’t given this record one straight sit down. I’ll get into why later.

Instrumentation/Songwriting

As I said in the intro, this band drives in 4th gear, leaving little room for slowing down. With that said, this album does have its moments of transition, slow moving passages, and sludgy riffs, but the songwriting on this record is relentless. As with most bands in this scene that I’ve heard, the song structures are pretty dynamic – tempo changes, dyadic clashes between the melodic and churning, distorted guitar tones, and bass lines to groove to. I will say that across ten tracks, some of the faster passages begin to blur together to the same cadence and sound as many others, which takes away from some of the song’s novelties. This record ends up relying on the subtleties in each track that makes it distinct. To me, the drumming on this record sounds like rudimentary hardcore, but it does appropriately keep with the style… not to mention that their drummer goes ham behind the kit in their music videos! I think the title of this record fits singer Daniel Wand best, because when I hear this guy scream into the mic, I hear unrelenting angst.

The band's logo. Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/capsizeband/photos/a.161296133894801.34644.141113965913018/888436081180799/?type=1&theater
The band’s logo. Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/capsizeband/photos/a.161296133894801.34644.141113965913018/888436081180799/?type=1&theater

The way he gasps for air in between each line and yells these maxims of pent up rage feeds this record’s appetite for chaos.

Track Reviews

Calming Crippling was the first song that I listened the full way through and as aforementioned, has a live music video. The first minute and a half of this track boasts a pretty groovy riff that goes into one of the more intense moments of this album. At the half way mark, there’s a notable looping guitar line that’s catchy and marks time against the chaos. The beginning of Pale starts like a pop punk song until the drums and rhythm guitar assault this track and launch into a familiar fast paced passage. The title track has one of the catchiest riffs that kicks off the song and keeps making its appearances throughout. The chorus becomes this start stop sing along moment that is sure to rile up and live audiences, which transitions into the song’s post chorus/bridge section. It has this dizzying drum fill that takes an unexpected turn. This album ends with Spent – probably my favorite song on this album, which has not only the catchiest intro on the whole record, but also has this delirious pace it sprints at to the finish.

Lyricism

The subject matter in this record is lurid and slightly vulgar in its presentation. Lead singer Daniel Wand holds no punches when he writes about his lack of place, betrayal, addiction, isolation, and slow burning frustration at the world. Calming, Crippiling and Spent are probably the most poignantly tense of them all, detailing the self destructive high of addiction and giving up the idea of being accepted by anyone. I’ve said before in other reviews, but metal and hardcore have a propensity for being lyrically dark by nature of the music. I usually don’t need that kind of low brow anger to satisfy the musical itch, but with this record, it’s fitting. I read many of these lyrics and was able to identify a time in my life where I felt the same way. In my opinion, that gives these songs more breath.

Capsize live. Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/capsizeband/photos/pb.141113965913018.-2207520000.1437186954./972021022822304/?type=3&theater
Capsize live. Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/capsizeband/photos/pb.141113965913018.-2207520000.1437186954./972021022822304/?type=3&theater

With that said, this album is hard to stomach if you don’t fancy such lyrical agony. I know for me, it’s one of the reasons that this record can be hard to listen to.

Production

One of the things I’m beginning to like about hardcore is its unkept presentation. Most metal I’m into is pretty refined, but albums like this need this kind of unpolished, grimy sound. Though the guitar tone is filthy, the drums, bass, and even the vocals maintain their integrity. They’re captured in a way that takes a snapshot of their live atmosphere but still contains their animal nature. The sound and feel of this record bulrushes you from start to finish.

Conclusion

Waka Flocka Flame claims to go hard in the paint… he never listened to this record. Bottom line and all jokes aside, this album is a beast. Though I have some good impressions, there were parts of this record that felt like a blur, and ten tracks is hard to sit through. I don’t even have the stomach to sit down with The Angst In My Veins the whole way. I’ve had to take this record in stages and piece together my impressions as I went through. I’d recommend this for anyone who wants a straight forward hardcore record with some progressive elements and melody laced throughout.

Score: 83/100

Sons Of the East – EP: Music Review

Bio

New to the scene, though experienced musicians and unique in their sound, Sons of the East are a singer/songwriter collective from Sydney, Australia. Despite a limited discography, the group have garnered critical acclaim for their sonic diversity and unexampled position in a scene that might be considered to be over saturated.

Sons Of the East. Photo Credit: imcmusic.net
Sons Of the East. Photo Credit: imcmusic.net

Background

Spotify is a beautiful thing. Why? Because you get to explore uncharted musical territory with the help of long, extended playlists, radio stations, and friends. On that right side bar, you can see what your friends are listening to while you are logged in. In the seven months of having Spotify, I have scouted lots of new music from seeing what my friends are listening to (this is how I ended up first listening to Volumes). Through back doors, friend’s profiles (yes, I admit to creeping) and related artists. I’ll be honest, the album cover initially drew me to this band without even listening to the music. I believe that album artwork is much like a first impression when someone first meets you. Science says that literally within a couple of seconds you decide whether you like someone or not. I feel like the same rule can be applied to music when you browse through albums and gaze at the covers. You make a snap judgment. When I got past the cover and began to sift through the songs on this self titled EP, I found myself enjoying this release.

Track Reviews

This EP starts off with Miramere – a catchy song with a medium tempo and a kick drum driving bounce. It’s a nice way to start out with a feel good track that makes you want to nod your head a little bit. The style of picking is pretty traditional for this kind of singer/songwriter and folk music, so there isn’t anything particularly fresh in this track that I haven’t heard from similar artists like Peter Bradley Adams.

EP cover. Photo Credit: realgonerocks.com
EP cover. Photo Credit: realgonerocks.com

Moving onto the next track takes this whole EP in a totally different direction that really gives a pulse and identity to this group. Come Away starts out with a simple chord progression with a tempo and aura reminiscent of artists like Gregory Alan Isakov (one of my all time favorites) that has a delicate piano line layered on top, a beautiful sounding harmonica, an accompanying banjo, and very soft Bob Dylan like vocals from Nic Johnston. Ending this record is California, another sunshine-y day anthem with a bouncing chord progression that stays in a higher key, along with an accompanying banjo. On the topic of instrumental diversity, this song actually has a didgeridoo in the chorus, which is something I had never heard a singer/songwriter group do up until this point.

Instrumentation/Songwriting

Sons Of the East has been praised for exploring the realm of folk music and integrating their own Australian culture into this EP. While I appreciate the novelty of certain instruments used, I don’t think this group incorporates anything groundbreaking that hasn’t been done by bands like Margaret and the Nuclear So and So’s. I think the singer/songwriter genre is a little oversaturated with recycled styles, hooks, and guitars. When someone or a group strives to reach farther to create a more comprehensive sound, then they have made at least a half decent effort in my book. Often times, I have seen some of the same influences come through in many artists in this genre that include legends like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Eric Clapton. Sons of the East are no exception. On Come Away and California, you can hear Nic Johnston channel his inner Bob Dylan with soft-spoken and denunciated vocals. In addition, I would consider Sons understudies of Mumford and Sons with the way hat throughout this EP you can hear a lot of harmonies from the other two members behind Johnston.

Sons Of the East. Photo credit: lostpicnic.net
Sons Of the East. Photo credit: lostpicnic.net

Lyrics

If I had to pick a genre of music armed with the most shrewd lyricism, it’s singer/songwriter. Themes range from introspective narratives, relationships, nature, love, and abstract storytelling. Sons Of the East stick to many of those traditional topics. Perhaps the strongest lyrics that paint a vivid picture of familial estrangement are on Hold On, with a simple, repeated chorus and striking verses. Come Away, as inferred from the title, tells a tale about young love that can feel relative when we think about those closest to us.

Production

Singer/songwriter is a genre that usually sounds better very uncut, unplugged, and minimal on cleanliness to preserve its authenticity behind the artist. It feels like such a nice change in pace when I hear a lot of grandiose production in pop, rock, hip-hop, and metal. It’s very fitting for this genre and this EP sounds well balanced between the guitar, piano, and banjo. I actually like how the harmonica takes the driver seat in songs like Come Away rather than it remaining on the same wavelength of all the other instruments. Even the didgeridoo in California is tastefully done. The way that this album is composed and packaged gives a very warm and calming vibe that is easy on the ears and ideal with a scenic view and a cup of coffee.

Conclusion

I am a sucker for good singer/songwriter music. It’s relaxing, peaceful, and often times is packed with nostalgic qualities that hit me with a crowbar when I listen to it. Sons Of the East join the ranks of artists who do that for me with a solid release. Though the incorporation of cultural instrumentals and a dual focus on folk music and singer songwriter qualities give dynamic, there isn’t anything new to digest. It has very good moments and has reply value. It will be interesting to see how this group of musicians expand the diversity of their music on later releases.

Score: 84/100