A Thorn For Every Heart

Pick Up The Pieces EP

Written by: TL on 26/11/2008 17:29:01

A Thorn For Every Heart is a band that has far from had the easy way to success, that their emo genre-association would've drawn up for them. Starting out as a violin-featuring underground emo/screamo act on their debut "Silence Is Golden EP", the band quickly lost their violinist and their second guitarist, replacing only the latter before releasing the first album "Things Aren't So Beautiful More" as an ordinary violin-less emo band, gaining themselves a substantial underground following on account of that record. All set to step up to a wider audience with their sophomore "It's Hard To Move You", ATFEH tripped on the finish line when their label Kickball Records was closed by its parent company Interscope, effectively cancelling the release of the album, which is still only available from illegal downloading because the band is still struggling with Interscope over the rights to it.

Through all of this ATEFH have remained a band, even after losing two more members, Jeff Harber (guitar/backing vocal) and Tyler Mahurin (drums), so one would expect for the new lineup to be a little pissed off with all this trouble and more than eager to draw focus back to their music. This feeling is as clear as a fist to the face on the appropriately titled self-released "Pick Up The Pieces EP". On all three of the band's previous releases, I have always found it easy to compare them to Anberlin, not only in sound but also in the fact that, while their sound is cool, they lack that final little touch to take them from being a band with a few good songs, to being one that's consistently awesome and respectable. If this new EP is a sign for the future though, those times are over.

As shown already on the first song "Pick Up The Pieces", the gloves have come off and the guards have been lowered, as ATFEH take us into the shitty situation they've been in and show us around with lyrics and vocal delivery that clearly show that subtlety has been thrown to the wind. Through the song as well as the other four on this EP however, the dominating theme is resilience - taking the shit life gives you and fighting on, undeterred.

"What do you do when you can't get up? / You just take comfort knowing you can't get much lower than you are! "

PP's prediction in his review of "It's Hard To Move You" that the band would never scream again, is also negated, much to my delight, by echoing backing screams that sound awesome without ever seeming wrong for the otherwise more stadium-rock-ish soundscape. This can especially be heard in the breakdown of the following "Bitter Party Of One", a song that says a bitter goodbye to all the people that have abandoned ATFEH in the past.

"This is it, this is really goodbye / ‘cause you've burnt all the bridges and severed the ties!"

While the band still uses some of the same classical emo/rock elements they've always used, it's the anger of this EP's content matter that seems to have injected a much needed portion of energy into a soundscape that I've otherwise found to be a bit too safe and soft on the previous two releases. The result is an invigorated band in which especially frontman Kelvin Cruz deserves much credit for finally filling his characteristic voice with attitude and charisma to match it, and as he spits out the defiant lyrics of this EP, he even comes close to sounding like Craig Mabbitt of Escape The Fate here and there. The singing and words are simply the best ATFEH have ever produced, and when they top them off with angry screams and energetic gang vocals, they finally display the format that's gonna take them from being an Anberlin-soundalike into a force of their own. At least that's what I think, and while my grade might not exceed what PP gave the band's last album, this is the first time the band has really deserved it if you ask me. Let's just hope they keep up this quality on their next full length!


Download: Pick Up The Pieces, Bitter Party Of One, Light This Fire
For The Fans Of: Anberlin, Emery,
Listen: myspace.com/athornforeveryheart

Release Date 01.07.2008

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