Let me first start by saying that I know that I've been a bit absentee lately. It's really difficult to keep up a stupid pointless blog about boners while also spending the last 15 free hours doing nothing but playing Dead Space 2 in back-to-back campaign playthroughs. But that game is awesome, and I've been running a little bit dry on the old laugh-laugh as a result. I meant to spend yesterday writing and getting lots of material together so that I wouldn't have to scratch out any quickie reviews to make myself keep looking like a legitimate writer. But since I spent the weekend drinking cocktails and watching Role Models for the second time, I didn't do that, so here's a quickie album review.
I remember when I was very first getting into metal. It was quite a thing to be discovering an all new world of bands with ridiculous names and frightening album art, particularly after spending years as a slavishly devoted punk rocker. But my newfound taste for guitar solos and tasty riffs led me to some scary places, particularly in the realm of power metal and metalcore. You see, Bakersfield, CA in the days of yore was not a bastion of metallic greatness, and we didn't have an indie record store that catered to our taste. Nobody out there had any taste in music other than a couple of my friends, one of them a frantic consumer of technical death metal (Erik), and the other a music school nerd whose tastes--like my own tastes--were, by and large, "dynamic," and "discerning," which of course translates to "annoying," and "I love the Mars Volta." That's Ed, and we're two peas in a very pasty white pod
Anyway, Bakersfield was a wasteland for metal. This was back when blogs were only for nerds who had nothing to say, and long before the prevalence of the "cool nerdmo music blog" explosion that happened at some point (I only started reading on the blogmosphere a couple of years ago, so I assume it happened around that time). We had to rely on our wits and disposable income to learn about new bands, and metal d00dz in Bakersfield tended to have terrible taste in metal. All the active bands worshiped Hatebreed, which is annoying by itself, but hardcore dancing was a scourge, and many of the local shows that would be put together ended up being cancelled mid-show because people couldn't keep their hands to themselves, resulting in massive brawls wherein pristine New Era baseball caps flew to and fro, their stickers that had been left on gleaming in the stage lights, while the unlucky owner of the venue frantically tried to stop the carnage from ruining his sound setup.
I never approved of this, but it was all we had.
Anyway, in those days, metalcore was king, and I would dutifully kiss the ring of the king in order that I might have a taste of the sweet, sweet nectar of metal. I don't miss those days at all.
Scott, the guitarist/vokillist for the band Ichabod Crane, recently emailed me a link to their Bandcamp page, advising me to take a listen even though I might eviscerate them. Since Scott is up for anything, so am I, and since I'm so happy that people want me to listen to their bands, I'm finally putting Dead Space 2 down for long enough to write this review. And it just goes to show that if you email me stuff about your band, you're pretty much guaranteed a review on my site, even if it takes a while because I'm being a lazy turd.
The Ohio-based band Ichabod Crane remind me of old times, which is a duel edged sword. That Scott bills Ichabod Crane as a thrash band (and the tags on the Bandcamp page would indicate the same thing) is a little bit surprising upon first listen. The first thing that really struck me about the music was that the melodic attack so commonly included breakdowns and/or breakdown-style riffing. My first listen was confusing; I was doing the dishes and listening to the music, and the only thing I could think of was "At the Gates-style melodic riffing + breakdowns =/= thrash." That made me sad, but luckily for Ichabod Crane (and for myself), my first impressions of everything tend to be superficial and half-cocked, especially if I listen while I do the dishes.
You see, when I do the dishes, I'm always stumbling upon old containers with leftover lasagna in them, or bowls with crusty oatmeal stuck to the insides, or food particles that I've neglected for long enough that they've reanimated themselves and started a new life at the bottom of my sink. It's my fault, really, that I spend so much of my time gagging and scraping and justifying the murder of reanimated talking food particles, because I'm a pig. And my wife has been really clear that, even if the reanimated food particles offer to grant me a wish, I'm not allowed to spare them, because old food that lives in the sink and talks to me almost never tells the truth and has some hidden agenda. But one day there will be an old hamburger patty that will actually have magic powers, and then I'll finally have a jetski.
What I'm trying to say is that I get distracted if I'm doing the dishes.
Upon second listen to Ichabod Crane, I realize that my first impressions weren't fully correct, but were instead incomplete and overly superficial. Ichabod Crane are less of a metalcore band than a Skeletonwitch-style Ohio thrash band that simply doesn't have the songwriting chops yet to not have to rely on breakdowns to break up their frantic D-beating melodic frenzy. Though I do get annoyed with the relative prominence of the breakdown, this isn't necessarily a dealbreaker for me, especially since there aren't any teenagers nearly pummeling me with their meaty fists while the feverishly windmill to make themselves look tough. Behind that facade of metalcore mediocrity lies a competent band with shreddy riffs (several of them of the "Oh my God that's awesome" variety) and a totally blackened sounding vokill attack.
In other words, the music is a little bit befuddling, but if you're like me, you'll find something to enjoy here. My biggest piece of advise for the band is this: "If people are doing karate or picking up change during any of your songs, you should change those riffs, because that shit is wrong and you shouldn't be encouraging the nation's youth to be douchey."
Seriously, guys, lay off the breakdowns and you could be great. Stick to the D-beat! Make your thrash sound more like this all the time.
And also, I really like the album's closing track, "Hail!" It reminds me of listening to Abigail at Ed's house in high school, complete with the confusingly alluring falsetto.
Check out Ichabod Crane's Bandcamp page to hear the music, because when it's good, it's pretty good. But seriously, cool it on the breakdowns.