“What started as social commentary on the growing divide in our society became very personal when our founding guitarist (Cody Conrad) passed of suicide and then soon after, my father of cancer. We went back in to re-write much of the album and in a lot of ways used it as therapy to cope with the experiences. Although intimate, at its core Anti-Melody is centred around the universal theme of separation on many levels.”
The words of American Standards vocalist, Brandon Kellum, reveal the heavy climate and emotion new album Anti-Melody emerged from. Equally though you sense there was a determination in its creation to make it something special in tribute to the two men and there is no doubt that it was an aim the Phoenix hailing band achieved. The eight track is superb, a new plateau in the chaotic hardcore/noise punk sound and invention of the quartet. It is raw with emotion and energy, vocal in heart and aggression but all aligned to the boldest imagination and biggest step forward in sound from the outfit yet.
Since emerging in 2011 and providing the attention grabbing, psyche twisting Still Life EP the following year, American Standards has only increased their reputation through another pair of EPs and an explosive live presence which has seen the band play alongside the likes of Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, The Dillinger Escape Plan amidst plenty more. Each release has seen the band explore new depths and aspects to their sound but maybe no more boldly and certainly impressively than within Anti-Melody.
The album opens with recent single Writers Block Party and instantly stirs up a roar of trouble and temptation. The vocal ferocity of Kellum triggers a tempest of sound, the guitar of Corey Skowronski abrasing the senses with rapacious riffs bound in tendrils of tangy grooves. That alone is a hellacious affair but add the belligerent bassline of Steven Mandell and Mitch Hosier’s vicious beats and it is a full-on accosting of ears. Equally though, it provides a virulent contagion of hungry hooks and inventive twists, all unpredictable and imaginatively leaping around with sonic Saint Vitus Dance.
Something akin to Norwegian band Shevils, the track ensures eager attention is locked in and ready to be plundered by next up Carpe Diem, Tomorrow. Just as keen to ravage the senses, it uses a compelling tangy groove as its lure, winding it around ears as inner attitude boils and festers fuelling the rhythmic antagonism and sonic web shaping the fiercely magnetic track.
Church Burner twists harmonic dexterity into its own fevered clamour, compelling contrasts blending as the track creates an individual tapestry of instinctive challenges and tantalising enterprise to match and at times outshine its predecessors before Bartenders Without Wings steps forward from a less forceful introduction. As Kellum’s heart pours emotion, melodic expression soaks the guitar, that raw energy and emotive power continuing to line every aspect of the powerful encounter. It is a creative and emotional outpouring which captivates in a completely different way to those before it but just as potently with its own open turmoil.
The ferocious untethered turbulence of Danger Music #9 bursts free next, its sonic ire flowing through another tapestry of unpredictability and imagination driven trespasses of the senses while CancerEater boils and vents in its cauldron of punk forged, noise infested animosity. Even when a track is raging within Anti-Melody, it shows a tenacity of invention and devilment, traits the song revels in as much as any around it.
Both imposingly enjoyable encounters are subsequently eclipsed by Broken Culture. With its swinging groove and boisterous percussive bait, the song needs mere seconds to enslave especially when the bass groans with irritable intent. The combined enterprise unveiled unites in a devilish swagger quickly stood astride by Kellum’s vocal confrontation, that irritability infesting all except a delicious breath of melodic and harmonic seduction which steals its own few seconds of major persuasion. With a controlled yet tempestuously volatile nature, the song continues to tease and harass the senses, treating them to a whole new American Standards adventure for the album’s best track.
The release comes to a close with the crabby crawl of Chicago Overcoat, a rapacious consuming of ears with instinctive liveliness to its energy and choleric design. It is a striking end to easily the finest thing to escape American Standards. The band has never been slow in providing memorable and stirring encounters but Anti-Melody is their most complete yet, a hungrily inventive proposal and easy to suggest the key to greater recognition.
Anti-Melody is available now @ https://americanstndrds.bandcamp.com/album/anti-melody
Pete RingMaster 02/05/2017
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