All The Best Tapes

All The Best Tapes

Written by: PP on 25/09/2014 22:20:15

Wow. Not many bands can muster a reaction like that from yours truly after having reviewed 3000+ albums during the last decade or so. But the opening track to the self-titled debut album by Stoke-on-Trent, UK's All The Best Tapes is the perfect example of the kind of virtuoso musicianship that's on display throughout the album. Stop-start sequences, strange and constantly changing time signatures, chaotic sequences of guitar-driven instrumental mastery, throaty shouts bordering screams, high pitch cleans raising above the insanity every now and then... these are all characteristics of the album as a whole and not just "I Want To Believe".

Basically, this is fucking crazy.

The effect is roughly comparable to the first time you listened to The Fall Of Troy's "Doppelgänger" or Damiera's "M(US)IC", both of which also open with equally awe-inspiring, lunacy-inducing instrumental wizardry as "All The Best Tapes". Especially Tomas Erak's (The Fall Of Troy) impossible guitar lines seem to be a constant reference point in songs like "The Iron Rod" and "Conservatoria In Threes". All of them rely on ultra-experimental post-hardcore and twist the genre into an almost unrecognizable shape with simply unbelievable guitar sequences. Some moments are truly epic - there's a particular moment on "Conservatoria In Threes" where the frenetic guitars are crashing into each other at unusually high levels mixing together tremolo shredding and solo-worthy leads, and the vocalist just goes a level higher with a brief "Woah!", descriptive of just how back-chilling this moment is.

As if to tell us they can also keep things simple, "New Ribs" opens up with breakneck speed power chords, camouflaging as a hardcore punk track until the progressive format and instrumental mastery returns to its previous levels halfway into the song. But really, similar tempo-changes are found everywhere on the record as the band explores just what is possible to do with avant-garde, art-driven music that still uses post-hardcore as its basic platform. The vocals, for instance, range between the clean style of Damiera and the high-pitch approach by Circa Survive for the most part, but aren't afraid to drop down to lower levels of screaming either.

"I've Been Bored Since 9/11", which the band have elected as the lead single from the record, is probably the least good track on the record, feeling more like a drug-induced haze of experimentalia rather than the chaotic technical guitar work found elsewhere on the record. But here, too, halfway through the song the band showcase some of their ability as instrumentalists, and generally, the song is indicative of how complex and challenging their music is, while also being somewhat catchy in the process. But honestly, "All The Best Tapes" isn't trying to be a catchy album. It's an exemplary display of musicianship and song arrangement in a way that shouldn't make any sense but does anyway - a trait brilliantly on display on the magnificent "We Judged It By The Waves" that closes an album that's more like a true musical experience than any other you'll hear this year. Headphones are a must to appreciate the detail of craftsmanship.

Download: Conservatoria In Threes, I Want To Believe, Life Of Gold
For the fans of: The Fall Of Troy, Damiera, Just Like Vinyl, Castevet, Protest The Hero, Circa Survive
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.06.2014
FXD Records

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