Really striking pop punk bands seem to be on the wane these days, there are some great bands but with uniformity to their sound which is great at the time of listening but soon lost from the memory until the next visit. Chicago band Athel with their debut album Open Your Eyes To Society seems like a band that might buck that trend. The songs on the release are vibrant and contagious and offer a fresh breath which lingers far longer than the sounds from the majority of their contempories. It openly brings familiar spices and flavours well known to the genre but places them within an invention and contagion that most others struggle to define their creations with.
Consisting of trio vocalist and guitarist Justin King, bassist Comron Fouladi, and drummer Christian Navarro, Athel bring strong traits of classic rock and metal to their punk hearted music too which adds to the distinct variety and strength the album grips the ear firmly with. Comparisons of Foo Fighters, Rise Against, and of course Green Day have been placed upon their songs and these are not hard to miss though the band probably sits nearer to the rock fuelled likes of Sum 41 with melodic insertions of a Good Charlotte or All American Rejects veining the constantly engaging sounds.
Signed to Mortal Music after the band came to the attention of co-owner and SOiL bassist Tim King, the band seems destined to rile up more than passing attention with their first full length release. The follow up to their previous couple of EPs, Open Your Eyes To Society swaggers and saunters through the ear with a sure confidence and stylish ability to excite the ear. From the opening Radio the release has no intentions other than to offer a good and flavoursome party. Mildly aggressive, vaguely intrusive, and wholly infectious the album leaves one fulfilled and with a satisfied grin. The opener sums the album up immediately, the song an easy going and pleasing invitation for the limbs and any anthemic tendencies within. It cruises through the ear with robust and eager riffs, fine harmonious vocals, and inserted rock guitar spikes to further excite, all brought with a full energy and imaginative hand.
The following vibrant These Are The Times continues the release in similar fashion, easily appealing and undemanding but it is with the next trio of songs that the album shows its true depths and strengths. All That I Am starts it off and is a gem. With a hypnotic melodic hook the Buzzcocks or Undertones would be proud of, and a Jimmy Eat World like chorus infection it is irresistible and alone offers the promise mentioned at the start.
Kara’s Carousel and Paranormal Abstract Of Everyday Life complete the triple slice of consecutive magic. The first of the two a rock textured blend of stirring metallic riffs and strikingly melodic vocals. The song suggests it might venture into pop punk or hard rock throughout but remains firmly steered between the two and is deeply impressive for it despite the fade out suggesting a lack of an ending. The other song is a muscular contagion with great acidic classic rock guitars adding a slight progressive feel. More hard rock than punk music wise, the song exhilarates and leaves one with increased adrenaline and raised eagerness to hit replay before moving on. Along with These Are The Times the pair are the biggest highlights on the album and the undeniable evidence of a band on a sharp rise.
Though the album continues with peaks and slight lulls which are still more inventive and impressive than most other similar veined releases, the album never gives less than pleasure and reward. The likes of the energetic Their Shoes alongside the melodic excellence of Me, Myself, & I and the crystalline grace of Oceans leave smooth and invigorating caresses upon the senses whilst brewing up emotions with their insistent anthemic energy.
Ending on bonus track Keep Me Awake, a song so addictive it should come with medical assistance, Open Your Eyes To Society is an excellent release that achieves what it set out to do, to leave one thrilled, energised, and eager for more. Athel still feel like they have a way to go to make that step into totally unique territory within the genre but they are well on the way and bringing great pleasure as they go.