Tir Asleen

Sand Through An Asphalt Hourglass

Written by: TL on 01/03/2014 15:25:17

Admittedly I'm not the most devout follower of neither skramz nor 'wave' hardcore - to me it feels like there's something unresolved in those genres' sharply cut aesthetics that prevents most bands there from truly standing out, yet it needs to be there to fuel the energy that makes the music what it is. At the same time though, I'm still drawn to the raw screams, introspective melodies and emotive lyricism and I make efforts to keep up, like for instance when coming upon Georgia's Tir Asleen - a quintet named after a mythical castle in the 80's fable "Willow", whose 2011 debut "Running Strong" intrigued me and whose under-the-radar sophomore "Sand Through An Asphalt Hourglass" have been on my list of things to expose since its November release last year.

Opposed to many records I review, "Asphalt Hourglass" is however an album that's consistently hard for me to sum up in terms of hooks and choruses. Not that it doesn't have them, but that's not the point. It's an album that wears its influences - Touché Amoré, Pianos Become The Teeth and La Dispute to name some obvious ones - on its sleeve and which wants nothing more than to earn a position in the same scene, yet at the same time it is not content to just sound derivative. It wants to be exactly this kind of music, but it wants to make its own mark on it, which is exactly how you want it.

As such, opening number "Counting Sands" commences the barrage of what's to come, an epitomization of wave - and partly skramz - elements with a characteristic tone and a production that is purpose-perfect. The drums and cymbals crack and crash in a way that makes you envision a small, carpeted basement stage while the crunchy guitar chords and minor scale leads are juxtaposed perfectly in a mix that completely envelops you and draws you nearer to the hoarse yet precise screams and howls and spoken words of singer Micheal Floyd. There are occassions of emo-styled clean singing as well, and though these are in the minority, the album makes sure to maintain an extremely well-balanced mix between tension-building spoken word and catharthic screaming.

I often talk about how I think bands should only opt out of conventional songstructure if they have a better reason to do so, and while Tir Asleen offer striking lines in both "Counting Sands", "Heavy For Half A Guy" and particularly "Keeping Time" - which highlights the album with the chant of "I still think that every sound's a sign, and every note is sweet, if only kept in" - theirs is indeed a case where the hooks are not the point. Instead it's the pervasively natural ebb and flow of hardcore energy that makes perfect sense, and coursing through the whole record it compels you to flail and scream for the duration and then press repeat.

In total honesty, I'm far from done mapping out "Sand Through An Asphalt Hourglass" in my mind yet, but for each time I go through, the following impressions only grow: This is exactly how I think a wave record should sound in perfect form in 2013/2014 and given the opportunity to hear it live, I suspect I would rein in my widespread reviewer's attention long enough to focus and seek out and memorize the lyrics so I could completely lose my shit (and voice) at the show. Indeed "Asphalt Hourglass" has gotten better for each attentive spin I've gone through, and as I curb my enthusiasm for just long enough to give a reasonable grade, can someone smarter than me please explain why the name "Tir Asleen" isn't yet spoken in the same breath as Touché Amoré and Pianos Become The Teeth?


Download: Keeping Time, Heavy For Half A Guy, Asphalt, Counting Sands
For The Fans Of: Touché Amoré, Mountaineer, Pianos Become The Teeth, La Dispute
Listen: facebook.com/tirasleen

Release Date 19.11.2013
Motherland Collective Records

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