To The Wind

Block Out The Sun & Sleep

Written by: AP on 24/07/2014 20:59:50

Seattle, WA based To the Wind clearly felt no need to prolong the waiting time their fans needed to endure after the release of their debut album "Empty Eyes" in May last year; barely a year in its wake comes this latest full length "Block Out the Sun & Sleep" which, if glossed over, proposes to bring few novelties to a genre in rapid growth and marred by the associated saturation. But what they do, To the Wind do better than most, introducing just the right elements from the repertoire of The Ghost Inside and Parkway Drive to a blender, and churning them into a potent piece of melodic hardcore that will suffer no condescension from the likes of Hundredth.

Stern though they may be in remaining safely within the boundaries of the genre, To the Wind possess the kind of energy and nerve that compels one's attention instantly and firmly. What Tanner Murphy lacks in vocal variety he atones for with a rich and eloquent lyrical universe, and against a backdrop of heartbroken, reverb laden melody and an urgent rhythm section, he quickly makes his presence felt with the haunting chorus "And when you scream her name, she is nothing. The emptiness inside is growing. She can't hide from the feeling. It's written in her eyes: she's fading." in "Vacant Homes". These words he delivers in a way not unlike Darkest Hour's John Henry, a harsh but sharp roar he exchanges in the verse for that dire sort of spoken (or rather, screamed) word Sean Murphy of Verse likes to use, as he bitterly resolves: "He's a good man, surely made a few mistakes. But he doesn't deserve this. No, he doesn't deserve this. In his eyes, she's still pretty. But to the world she looks empty. It's time for him to face the facts: home ain't where it used to be." His illustrious lyricism is no less essential in the standout "Hands of the Clock", which dabbles in that storytelling approach of bands like Defeater, in which the instrumentation, though rich, winds itself around Murphy's vocals rather than the other way around. Indeed, the song - at track three - tempers the momentum with a style verging on the wave style of hardcore; the marriage of melancholy and Murphy's anguished screams of "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I know I'm not a perfect man, fix mistakes in any place I can. If I could choose to turn the hands of the clock and go back to the start of me, I wouldn't change it. I wouldn't change it. I know I'm not a perfect man! I know I'm not a perfect man! I know I'm not a perfect man! I'm just a sorry man…" is absolutely unforgettable - much like TRC's masterpiece "London's Greatest Love Story" without the hip hop edge.

But listening to a song like "Alone in Life", and indeed having sat through "Trapped" earlier with impatience, the style and sound of this band starts to seem a little worn. But I allege that is largely the product of the high concentration of bands in the genre - not a sign of incompetence on To the Wind's part. Tune in on virtually any song on "Block Out the Sun & Sleep" and there's the stamp of quality, even outside of the definitive highlights. But with the inclusion of the obligatory respite in the form of an instrumental title track, the album does feel like it's curbed by a set of rules and conventions that To the Wind are too keen to abide by. And there are inevitably times when Murphy's two-pronged growl grows tiresome, monotonous even. The profuse usage of gang vocals in tracks like "Iron Rain" is a decent counterweight, but not entirely sufficient.

Unsurprisingly, the best tracks here are those contributing diversity: the two mentioned earlier are in a league of their own, as well as the high-octane d-beat charge of "21", which at first presents itself as rather generic but certainly packs ample ideas and details worth batting an eyelash for particularly nearing its grand crescendo in the end; and the raucous "Through My Eyes" - the least melodic, yet infectiously energetic discharge of hardcore punk. "One and the Same" is also great; richly melodic, awash with bittersweet atmosphere and compelling lyrics about atonement, acceptance and moving on ("I waited all this time, and it's been dwelling in my mind. Bit your bitterness made me resort to this. And I'll tell you: I felt wronged. And these are consequences I am willing to accept. So save your breath, you and I won't see eye to eye. You claim to tell the truth, but I'm not buying. If you don't feel the same way, then what's the point of trying? Now's your time - resign." and in the chorus "Resign! I don't care about your truth. My only care is leaving you. So be alone with your own solitude. Go find a heart somewhere inside your fading eyes."), the song concludes in swirling, uplifting closure with Murphy hanging onto his last words for awesome impact.

But having listened to the record a significant number of times now, there's no escaping the frightening consistency with which To the Wind lob their message at the listener. Its exceptional moments set the bar high, but even those songs which do not inspire pure awe are of a nature, if heard at chance in some social setting, to raise most people's heads wondering "who's this song by?". So if melodic hardcore distinguished by inspired (and relatable) lyrics and rousing instrumentation sounds up your alley, you won't find them much better than To the Wind's sophomore effort here.


Download: Vacant Home, Hands of the Clock, Through My Eyes, One and the Same
For the fans of: The Ghost Inside, Hundredth, Parkway Drive
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.07.2014
Pure Noise Records

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