The Overseer

Rest & Let Go

Written by: AP on 05/03/2014 16:13:40

It was with a heavy heart that I received the news of Thrice indefinitely ceasing their activities as a band when it was announced in late 2012, as during the 15 years and eight studio albums, the Irvine, CA based outfit managed to earn a special place in my memory as one of my all-time favourites. "Vheissu" (2005) and "Beggars" (2009) both rank, to me, among the best rock albums released since the beginning of this millennium, balancing perfectly the artful, the complex, the poetic and the heavy aspects of the genre cultivated over multiple decades. Why, you might ask, do I lead into a review of some other band with a preamble so focused on Thrice; and I would answer: because The Overseer admit whole-heartedly to drawing a significant portion of their influence from them, and because the group's sophomore album "Rest & Let Go" continues their legacy so impeccably that my sorrow for their untimely demise is briefly forgotten.

It is no coincidence that The Overseer saw themselves sign with Solid State in 2012 following a whopping 400 days of independent touring between then and 2010; this was indeed always their hope, given that many of their idols - including Thrice and Underoath - found residence there in their day. The Overseer are not quite as cacophonous as the latter, nor as subtle as the former; rather, they've found a niche within alternative rock and post-hardcore that avoids sounding frustratingly similar to others of their ilk (the late As Cities Burn, City of Ships and Sights & Sounds all come to mind when thinking up references). "Fragile Wings" does play like a page out of the "Vheissu" book, but its juxtapositions are more stark: downcast, resonant keys fall like raindrops onto a thick, jagged metal riff, until the storm calms into a lull and vocalist Anthony Rivera introduces himself by the frail singing of "Be still, my weary soul. I can feel you're gone with every step I take. I lay you down, it's so hard to stand; to see you at the end". Cue guitarist Darren King's scream of "buried deep inside the ground", and the song explodes into its intro riff once again, and Rivera strenuously bellows out the electrifying chorus, "Fragile wings were broken. Glory think of me. Nightmares have awoken. Can you hear the scream?" with awesome power.

Together with the following "Paper Thin Houses" and "Scarlet Wool" a little later on, the song is the first pillar in a trifecta of clear standout moments, the former toying with quiet/loud and fast/slow dynamics in a manner which exposes with little ambiguity the presence of both Underoath and Sights & Sounds on The Overseer's stylistic palette, by enlisting first a serrated metalcore riff based around dissonant chords and then subduing it with clean atmospherics and Rivera's organic shuffling between coarse, hysterical screaming and soft, emotional singing; the latter launching and concluding with a muted live effect on the recording that pays tribute to Thrice's "The Earth Will Shake", and proceeding then to unleash another unforgettable chorus in "Come now wind, sweep me off my feet. Take my breath, take everything you see. I'm on the run again. Come now wind, catch me like a leaf.", Rivera screaming it in despair and exhaustion as though with his last dying breaths.

Alert listeners will notice that, like the bands by which they are influenced, The Overseer prefer to keep their writing simple, opting out of unnecessary clutter and focusing instead on writing extremely memorable, hard-hitting songs with vocals, guitar, bass (Bradley Riggs), drums (Abishai Collingsworth) and occasional samples, and constructing their allure from the individual talents of each member. As such, knowing when to refrain and when to let rip in all channels gives "Rest & Let Go" the enviable quality of boasting not a single weak track. True, as proposed in the previous paragraphs, the strength of its singles is undeniable. But there is plenty of compelling stuff on display elsewhere, too, with "The Structure / The Foundation", "The Ferryman, Charon" and "Give Light to My Eyes" all impressing by virtue of the finesse with which The Overseer weave their ideas into a central theme of confusion, loss and, ultimately, defiance. Nowhere are these sensations captured with more precision than on "Give Light to My Eyes", which ebbs and flows between delicate, City of Ships (and F.O.E.S.)-reminiscent post-rock passages and its triumphant chorus of "You can't see past the darkest of me. There is something inside. Watch as the sky gives light to my eyes. Awaken me. Awaken me." amidst bruising chords and crashing cymbals.

In a way, that song is exemplary of the constant tug of war between submission and rebellion, humility and urgency; that makes "Rest & Let Go" such an enthralling listening experience. Granted, the apposition of these elements on three planes (instrumental, vocal and lyrical) is by no means unique, but The Overseer grasp the well worn formula with refreshing spirit and passion. While falling just short of extraordinary then, "Rest & Let Go" is an invigorating piece of music that will surely earn even more relevance now that two of the genre's most trusted and eclectic purveyors have passed the throne.


Download: Fragile Wings; Paper Thin Houses; Scarlet Wool; The Ferryman, Charon; Give Light to My Eyes
For the fans of: City of Ships, Sights & Sounds, Thrice, Underoath
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Release date 04.03.2014
Solid State Records

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