Last year I listened to nearly 1,000 albums that were released in 2011. This year, I'm on pace to hit that total again, if not significantly exceed it. When I sit back and actually think about those numbers, I realize that there is rarely an album that truly sticks with me. There's the occasional effort here and there that gets me to perk up and that might even get me to toss them on a year end list or something, but when I look at my musical catalog, there's probably only a group of 50-75 albums that I ever want to actively listen to. These albums stand out because they are either wonderfully unique or they exemplify the peak of a genre. One of those albums was the self titled effort from Innerpartysystem. It was something new and fresh at the time; I'd never heard an amalgamation of pop, electronics, new wave, and rock quite like that before and, frankly, haven't since. But then HavocNdeeD went and released Distoria…
I nearly skipped over this EP simply because of the band's horrendous name. It screamed late 90s or early 00s nu-metal and the album art wasn't doing them any favors to dispel that assumption. Luckily, as mentioned earlier, I am an insatiable monster that craves new music from every source and genre possible, so this eventually hit my headphones. Nearly instantly I knew I found something different, something that was going to make me keep coming back. "Breathing in Seconds" was the closest thing I'd heard to the amalgamation Innerpartysystem put forth years back. The pulsating undercurrent of industrialized beats stretched to their extreme, guided the methodical pace of the song, allowing the vocals to float above it all while a heartbroken piano line pulled at you… this song… it's moody as hell and you can't escape the grasp it will have on you.
But as quickly as HavocNdeeD hooked me, they almost lost me. "At Last," the second track on this EP, is the one oddball of the bunch. Instead of sticking with the moody electronics of the rest of the EP, they delve into a country and Americana influenced approach that, on its own actually isn't all that bad, but as a part of this EP comes across as something zooming in from way out there in left field.
From there, however, the EP gets back on course and continues to play with the combination of modern electronics, absolutely spot-on downtempo pacing, melancholic (almost nu-metal-ish crooning) vocal lines, utter coolness, and infusions of dubstep (not brostep, drop-heavy, Transformers-raping-each-other shit, mind you, but churning wub-wub bass lines and movements). After the first two tracks, which are easily the best and worst songs on the album, the trio seemingly goes through a growth and evolution of their unique sound.
"Vision" carries forward the themes and vibe of "Breathing in Seconds" but pulls back just a bit in intensity, which allows the new mix of "Headspin" to come through with full force when it follows. The pulsating bass lines are coupled with grimy, distorted, buzzingly huge electronic pushes that guide the vocals and show the first hints of the dubstep influence, an influence the band wields expertly.
"Waiting Game" lets the dubstep tendencies of the band fly free, being the most aggressive, cathartic, and booming track on the album. I'd be remiss to note that this could easily fit at home between efforts from Bassnectar or Flux Pavillion, but it's so well done that it doesn't feel like a contrived shoe-horning in of a currently popular sound.
Then you get the closer, "Where Do We Go," that puts together all of the individual pieces of what HavocNdeeD worked with on this EP. There's a further exploration of dubstep wobbling, haunting vocals, thick bass undercurrents, and methodical pacing. It's completely evident that this trio are a mature band that can expertly create a sound that is wholeheartedly unique, while uniquely utilizing pieces of genres that are already oversaturated well known.
If you've been waiting for the second coming of Innerpartysystem, here you have it, after a fashion. If you crave some serious electronic and dubstep flavored music, here you have it. And if you want a sure-fire inclusion for your year end EPs list, here you definitely have it.