Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Swim The Mind ~ Waterfall Walls

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Style: alt rock, prog rock
Label: self-released
Year: 2010
Home: Connecticut

Members: Cisco ~ guitar
Nick ~ vocals

Adam ~ bass
Alex ~ drums/percussion



It's usually pretty obvious when a band is more than casually influenced by Alice In Chains ... because they sound like them & do it well, or more properly play music in the same spirit of the rhythmically & vocally dynamic Seattle enigma. Then there are bands that name drop Alice In Chains but sound nothing like them. Thus, the influence is either obvious or just nice PR to grow a fanbase. Perhaps it's partly because STM open their debut album with "The Drought" which is reminiscent of "Dam That River", from Alice In Chain's Dirt, but STM turn & weave with driving rhythms that move from single guitar to dual to little pop up solos taking on the feeling of Alice In Chains but fully making it their own emotionally dynamic beast. STM is like an orchestra where everyone works together versus here's the guitar part, here's the drum part, here's another disconnected part. For STM the instruments seem to echo & shadow each other. "The Drought" & many other songs on the album are verse/chorus/verse/refrain/etc but they rarely feel like it as the arrangements has enough textural flow where the parts don't jarr against each other but flow through & into each other. At times the song is in your face & other times it whispers, with all the instruments & the vocals falling in line not dominating. One doesn't often talk about arrangements in a rock context as the form is dominated by rhythm section with solo guitar over it & vocals over there, but here the arrangements here are amazing & highly textured ... just like Alice In Chains. But, where they weave with "The Drought" they also throw in something unpredictable with the angrily shouted "The Rope & The Pole" which hold backs with the refrain to keep the tension & magic of the effect successful. Early Live also comes to mind whose music at times sounded like rushing waves. This reference comes to the fore with the instrumental title track that isn't so much water rushing but feels more like a percussion based extended opening to the Live-esque spiritual ballad "Becoming One". "Zard Norp" is another instrumental sequeway that sounds like fantastical sounds from a factory or machine. A fascinating interlude & I usually find instrumentals disruptive to an album's flow or unnecessary. The album does veer a little long & a little repetitive as the songs don't always stand up with distinctiveness, but STM have given such a great new twist to the foundation laid by Alice In Chains the result is a solid album well worth hearing. They do indeed live up to their name of swimming the mind, that is musically.

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