Written by: PP on 23/04/2007 14:37:33

In the recent weeks my fellow writers have surely noted my renewed concern for the lack of new music that truly matters, music that is life-changing and genre-defining in every way, music that steps so far out of the norms today that it is awe-inspiring, music that makes little Johnny pick up a guitar and one day write another "Black Album" or "The Shape Of Punk To Come" that will reignite the cycle all over again. For years now, Equal Vision has been one of the labels thriving to release unique, inspirational music by bands whose impact will be felt now and in the future. Many of you may have shared my agony when the news surfaced that Bear Vs Shark broke up, as it was one of those label-defining artists that contrives the identity of a label. Damiera is Equal Vision's next Bear Vs Shark. They are one of those bands whose music one day influences people in the hundreds of thousands, even if it isn't necessarily happening just now. That Damiera's "M(US)IC" managed to pass by me unnoticed for a whole year before its release here in cold Northern Europe makes me contemplate I haven't been looking closely enough. Because by now, the band has announced their plans to go on indefinite hiatus like Bear Vs Shark, defying any possible chance I might have had to witness their message of originality, passion and depth live.

That's quite an introduction, but Damiera truly deserves it. Starting from the subtly explosive opening piece "Immure" all the way to the finishing song "Obsessions", their disc "M(US)IC" has all the qualities a classic masterpiece and a highly influential album constists of. The guitar work is organic, varying from song to song, and almost always unconventional. It doesn't follow the normal rhythms or trends, but instead emits a smooth vibe of originality through its many time signature changes and mid riff pauses. The lead guitar is truly inspirational, as it leads you through the whole spectrum of what is possible to do with a guitar, without having to resort into heaviness or show-off solos. To put it short, it depicts true honesty and true belief into the music and its possibilities. The dimensions both of the guitars are able to go by variating scales and experimenting into opposite directions are almost limitless it seems, and open up your mind to a world of music that previously seemed impossible. Think of the kind of experimentation Sounds Of Animals fighting do, and then imagine that done in a slightly more post-hardcore/emo way, and without all the unnecessary sound effects as a traditional four piece.

Vocalist David Raymond doesn't need to resort into screams, because his clean singing is some of the best I've ever heard on record. The production has smoothed out all harsh edges, helping Raymond to sound soft without ever lacking passion and power. I'm not talking soft in the Dashboard Confessional way, I'm talking soft and powerful in Geoff Rickly (Thursday) way without being as harsh and raw-edged as he can often be. Think the vocalist of Portugal. The Man with a slightly more affirming voice. The sudden jumps in his already highly-pitched voice are contrasted by exemplary calm and soothing passages whenever the instrumentals become less stormy, and throughout the album his voice follows the guitar and bass lines in unison, as if the vocals and the instrumentals were one. This is a nice feat that I've been missing on many recent albums where the vocals don't seem to be quite as synchronized with the music as you'd like.

The only feasible criticism (and the only reason this album isn't receiving a full rating) for "M(US)IC" is that upon initial listens, the musical arrangements and the idea behind the songs is relatively similar from song to song. Even after weeks of listening it is easy to get slightly confused with the songs as they do sound a lot alike. This however removes nothing from their basic appeal, that of simplicity hidden underneath insightful instrumentation and harmonious, Moneen-style melodies. And parts of this criticism is patched up with the thought that "M(US)IC", although genre-defining, isn't limited to confines of just one genre. It is as emo as it is melodic rock, and it is as experimental as it is simplistic. It covers the whole spectrum of music, and like the title suggests, defines "us" in Music.


Download: Immure, Flora:Yield
For the fans of: Bear Vs Shark, Portugal. The Man, The Fall Of Troy, Moneen, Thursday, The Receiving End Of Sirens
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.02.2007
Equal Vision
Provided by Target ApS

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