As Cities Burn

Hell Or High Water

Written by: TL on 12/05/2009 00:05:40

Recently I made a very delayed acquaintance with an American band called As Cities Burn. A band that started their career with an excellent screamo album back in 2005, an album worthy of mentioning up there with the early works of bands like UnderOATH or Akissforjersey. Mixing strands of mewithoutYou's manic indie into post-hardcore fueled by religious reflection made "Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest" quite something, something the band almost never followed up upon as they went on indefinite hiatus little under a year after its release.

Fortunately though, the band listened to the outburst that sounded from their fans, and effectively decided to record a new album. However, before they actually got around to it they'd lost their singer and had to exchange their bassist. Effectively, the second album "Come Now, Sleep" ended up sounding quite different from its predecessor, with screaming entirely gone from the soundscape and the focus generally being on a mellower and more indie approach.

This same approach dominates the band's recently released third album "Hell Or High Water". Bands like Brand New and The Snake The Cross The Crown are now closer in mind when trying to think of bands that sound similar to As Cities Burn, while mewithoutYou never really left the picture though. The songs are subtle and moody, to the point of being mellow even at their very loudest. This ironically makes them much harder to get into than was the case with those on "Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest", because your mind continually finds itself waiting for the moments where they would take off in the same way as the old songs. Moments that never come.

Much like with the last Brand New album, "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me", "Hell Or High Water" is an album that seems to just keep winning and winning again and again upon closer inspection. Once you ears gets attuned to the nature of the music, you're going to start noticing the seamless intricacy and the wealth of texture and detail in pretty much every song on offer, in a sound that can best be described as an indie-rock version of the softest songs from UnderOATH's "Lost In The Sound Of Separation". The arrangements sparkle with quirkiness and ingenuity and the lyrics are the best kind of thoughtful. Favourites of the moment include:

"But you sleep.. in the bed of for giant.. while you wait for your love to come home, but you don't know.. she's not coming back!"

Out of "Pirate Blues", or how about these from "Capo":

"Evil.. Evil wears a suit on the screen.. With a hotline.. you call to buy your blessing..

In The holy name came a prophet! Putting his hands in the pockets of.. all the thoughtless and naive"

In any case, I feel like I have a hard time describing the sound of this album, so let me just say this: It's the kind of album that might initially piss you off with its lack of obvious fix points, but once you start getting it, it turns into the kind of record you can spin again and again and again. Even if it isn't one with songs you're going to often feel tempted to put on by themselves.

8

Download: Petty, Pirate Blues, Capo
For The Fans Of: Brand New, mewithoutYou, The Snake The Cross The Crown
Listen: myspace.com/ascitiesburn

Release Date: 21.04.2009
Solid State Records

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