Thursday, January 25, 2007

Red Orchestra Radio - The Electric Sleep CD Review

The disbanding of Codeseven, which took place last year, was a disheartening event for many people, especially since it came on the heels of the band creating their most cohesive and mature album to date in Dancing Echoes / Dead Sounds. With fervent interest, fans of the band saw James Tuttle join the then recently formed Red Orchestra Radio. Expectation ran high, but were then subsequently somewhat dashed when the band started touring with oft maligned acts, such as Atreyu and Hawthorne Heights. Certainly teaming up with bands of that pedigree didn’t bode well for the direction of the band. Now, with The Electric Sleep, fans can listen for themselves to see exactly what direction the band decided to travel down.

The album starts off sounding very similar to the critically acclaimed Circa Survive, most notably in the realm of the musical arrangements. The cascading guitars, complete with perfectly placed crescendos and movements that flow quite naturally, keep the opening brisk, yet enlightening. Unlike Anthony Green’s vocal approach, however, Chris Chafin possesses a middle tenor range that, at times, feels more at home against the backdrop of Red Orchestra Radio’s space rock tinged post-hardcore musical landscapes than would a high pitched falsetto approach. His screams feel a little forced, however, but thankfully they are few and far between, and when they do appear they feel appropriate instead of coming across as out of place or forced.

There may only be five tracks on this EP, but those five tracks encompass over half an hour of music, which obviously means that the songs can strain to the breaking point when their individual run times are examined. The post-hardcore and space rock genres naturally lend themselves to longer length songs, but only if properly crafted. It is this aspect in which The Electric Sheep stumbles. Four out of five times the band hits home runs in regards to pacing, but the final track on this CD, “Thrasher 419”, pushes the boundaries at over 13 minutes in length. At points throughout this song the musical interplay feels pretentious and off putting, which will leave listeners ignoring the track in lieu of repeat plays of the first four.

Barring the final track and its self indulgent nature, this EP is actually a very strong offering and shows a great deal of promise. Given a little more focus and maturity, this band is bound to start being mentioned in the same category as critical favorites Cave In or Kaddisfly. As it stands, however, this is still a very solid offering that should not be let slip through the cracks.

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