The Cast Before The Break


Written by: DR on 19/06/2011 22:59:13

It seems as though ever since Moving Mountains' debut "Pneuma", which The Cast Before The Break's label, Deep Elm Records, re-released the year after its initial release, that the alternative/post-rock genre has risen in popularity with music fans and seemingly the number of bands keen to try their hands at it.

I'm probably doing The Cast Before The Break a disservice with that introduction, because they released their critically-acclaimed debut EP "As Your Shoulders Turn On You" barely a year after MM's debut. Maybe they were heavily inspired by that band, or maybe both acts had the same influences resulting in a very similar sound, but there's no denying that Moving Mountains paved the way for alternative songs with soaring post-rock atmospherics, with inspirations as diverse as Thrice to Explosions in the Sky.

Lush post-rock crescendo-driven soundscapes, done away with long-winded builds ups, instead condensed to around four to six minutes, with alternative vocals then added to the mix to add an extra dimension to the sound. The benchmark for this marriage of genres is still "Pneuma", a record which probably didn't get the recognition it deserved, yet it was one that genuinely broke new ground. So no, "Still" isn't especially original, but it isn't especially un-original, either - it's not exactly well-worn territory they're operating within.

The soundscapes are textually rich and charming, and the vocals have an impressive range (particularly TJ Foster's falsetto) without being too intrusive, and if you were to lay back and close your eyes you'd find plenty within the music to appreciate. However, it feels like The Cast Before The Break have played it a bit safe. The song-structures are comfortable, almost predictable. They're still pretty to the ear, but for the most part lacking in that sincere moment of magic you didn't hear coming that makes 'good' music 'great' music. "Sleep" has all the highs and lows and climax of a decent post-rock song, but we've heard it so many times before, so it's only that: decent.

Throughout tracks like "Sleep" that dominate this release, there are examples of The Cast Before The Break pushing the boat out a little, resulting in the most memorable moments of the album. Entirely instrumental "To Believe In Something" is a fine example of how to juxtapose beautiful guitar-work with harsh double-pedal drumming to create a powerful crescendo, and following track "Culling" uses similar characteristics to good effect. The gentle, sinking lull of "A Series Of Rooms" leads you to expect the song will all pan out in a similar way, which is why the screamed vocals catch you completely off-guard - one of those moments you didn't hear coming. Another of these moments is in the explosion of screams in "Canyons"; the screams + surging clean vocals is a dimension to their sound that really works, it's just a shame it's one that wasn't utilised more.

Still, "Still" is The Cast Before The Break's debut full-length album, and all in all a pretty promising one. There are genuine 'wow' moments punctuating an otherwise decent release that suggest this quintet are poised to create something special in the future, as long as they step out of their comfort zone more than a few times.


Download: To Believe In Something, Culling, A Series Of Rooms, Canyons
For The Fans of: Moving Mountains, Athletics, Wolves & Machines
Listen: Deep Elm Page

Release Date 08.03.2011
Deep Elm Records

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