Hundred Reasons - Quick The Word Sharp The Action
I remember the first time our paths crossed. I was kicking my heels, waiting for Muse to light up Newport when this bunch of eager young kids bounded onto the stage, seemingly in disbelief that they’d been allowed past security. I was, I must be honest, largely unmoved by their music but they were hugely endearing and quickly won over the crowd with their unfettered exuberance. I lost track of their career but they made an impression upon me and I was keen to hear where they’d ended up.
They’ve clearly done a lot of growing up in the last 5 years as this album displays a great maturity, possibly garnered in difficult circumstances. The band have endured a tragic couple of years which have been tainted by death and loss and it is to their great credit that they’ve moulded adversity into an album whose overriding emotion is defiance. They’ve survived and they are here to testify.
I’m immediately struck by the immense power of the album, overwhelmed by a wall of sound and layered vocals reminiscent of Alice in Chains. Scratch the surface though and there’s more to be discovered. Sick Little Masquerade, a song of loss and frustration, has a tender heart, a gentle underbelly which builds to a resoundingly defiant chorus. They sound like they could take on the whole world here and, next track Boy is a top ten single waiting to happen. You could dismiss such pop sensibilities as an attempt to cash in on the McFly dollar, but I don’t think these guys have it in them to sell out, there’s too much honesty and soul bearing in their music for it to be considered in such crass terms as ‘units’.
Personally I find this style of, oh, clinical, for want of a better word, rock to be slightly wearing. It is so note perfect and polished that it can quickly feel unnatural. A masterstroke then to slice the album into two segments with the quasi ambient wash of Pernavas Iela which gives the cortex some respite before your face is torn off by the hyper compressed, Prodigy-esque ravings of The Shredder. Perhaps influenced by their time on the road together She is Poison is a prog epic which is clearly influenced by Muse’s histrionic catalogue. Standout track is Lost For Words purely for its understated honesty and downbeat analysis of a difficult period for the band, complete with some flat vocals, this shattering of audio perfection a cathartic concession to the tragic subject matter.
This is an odd release as it was first available back in 2007, but the band are clearly eager to get this album heard, and with good reason. It is a well considered release, the gatefold packaging is sublime and there are four extra tracks, each worthy of its place on this extended album. This band is truly invincible and they’ve made an album that sounds...that sounds like victory.