Thursday, September 18, 2008

Johnny Truant - No Tears for the Creatures CD Review

It looks like Johnny Truant have finally broken through to the (relatively speaking) big leagues, releasing their third album on Ferret Records. Having been in existence for 8 years already, most people will probably only be hearing of this band now, which is both wonderful and, at the same time, disheartening. Johnny Truant definitely deserve to be on the larger stage that Ferret presents them with, but it’s some of their past work that is somewhat more interesting in comparison to the somewhat safe No Tears for the Creatures.

Johnny Truant’s debut, The Repercussions of a Badly Planned Suicide, although suffering from some underwhelming production, was an album that showed the band could put together some grand metalcore songs. With the shortest song on that album clocking in at just under 5 minutes, there were a lot of ideas explored in their long form experiments — two tracks even neared the 10 minute mark. The toying around with progressive metalcore and some spacier moments showed a lot of promise which, unfortunately, wasn’t capitalized on with their sophomore effort, In the Library of Horrific Events. This album focused more on truncating song length, neutering some of the experimentation, and adding in some melody here and there which, essentially, generalized them to some extent. It was still a very solid album, but didn’t expand on the room for growth that was hinted at on their debut.

Now we have No Tears for the Creatures, which shows the band again making some changes to their approach. The first thing that you’ll notice is the huge sound of the album. Every song feels large and in charge with thick, meaty grooves and equally visceral vocals, even if they are at times mixed in a bit low. It’s also very noticeable that the band has tried to streamline their sound even further, creating a lean metalcore machine, but in doing so have also sacrificed even further the few things they did differently from some of their peers. Thankfully they didn’t make these sacrifices throughout entire album.

Even without a lot of the experimentation of their debut and the spacey moments of their last album, this is still a relatively solid album. It’s possible to hear the remnants of their past work as there are some melodic guitar lines sparsely spaced out on the first half of the album, and the final two tracks show a little of the longer form song-writing they previously employed. Still, the main focus of the first 2/3 of this album is to be ferocious and aggressive, which they have definitely accomplished. One of the keys to their heavy sound is the well placed, thunderous drumming during breakdowns and key moments. It may simply be due to the production or mixing, but the bass drum rolls are pummeling.

Mention should be made of the final two tracks, as well as “Dead Ships Sinking”, since they are definitely much different than the other 7 tracks of the album. As I mentioned before they employ a very progressive style, much in the same manner as Misery Signals, on these compositions. The aggressive vocals are screamed out over well choreographed, growing progressions of heaviness that churn in a slow-burn fashion. These 3 songs are definitely the best portion of the album and are, unfortunately, buried at the end of the release.

Identity crisis aside, Johnny Truant are proving that Ferret did indeed pick up a solid band, but there is still room for growth. With three albums now under their belt, it’s time for Johnny Truant to sit down and decide exactly what kind of band they want to be because modern fans are fickle and might not create an attachment to a band that is constantly going in different directions on each album, and even on different songs within a single album.

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