Reviews

Album Review: InAeona’s Force Awakens

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You’ve heard this before.

That’s not some dig about this music being obvious and derivative (it’s really not), it’s a literal fact: there’s a full-album stream banging around this site somewhere that gave you full access to Force Rise the Sun’s merits and mehs. If you dug into the music offered that day (or in subsequent days), then you know what you think about InAeona’s first full-length already. The only reason to continue reading is to find out what I think about InAeona’s first full-length, and that has got to be the silliest reason to do anything.

Seeing release on August 7th through the laser-sightedly consistent Prosthetic Records, Force Rise the Sun is an engaging and somewhat challenging listen. The Boston trio adorns a foundation of power chord rock anthems with electronic beats, keyboard accompaniment, hardcore gusto and Bridge Lavaizar’s sky-punching multi-dubbed alto sing-shouts, then dresses the whole thing in a coarse, jagged production that makes everything sound like you’re hearing this music from the far side of a raging bonfire. I’m undecided on whether this sonic choice is a positive or not; it certainly girds the music with a dangerous edge, but it also seems to mute the dynamic possibilities of these songs and dampen the potential impact of certain vocal, guitar and rhythm performances. Also, the album’s vocal focus suggests that the lyrics play a crucial role in the songs’ meaning, but the mix makes it difficult to discern much of what Lavaizar is belting out. It makes me wish this could be released in double-album format, one disc mixed as is and the other for maximum contrast and clarity. I really don’t believe that one version would be objectively better than the other, but the two approaches would act like binocular vision, adding depth to the whole, much as the Remixes and Reinterpretations of Isis’s Oceanic highlighted exciting aspects of those songs but could never replace the original.

But we’ve veered wide of our original goal: What do I think of Force Rise the Sun? I’m glad you asked. Thank you for taking an interest.

I think it’s a fucking cool record that doesn’t sound like anything else you’ve been Spotifying or iTunesing or Pandoraing recently. “Bright Black” immediately justifies the comparisons to pals Junius with monstrous melodies atop overwhelming waves of glistening metal chords. “Leader” deals in pounding rapped verses and landscape-leveling choruses (though, admittedly, that latter description goes for just about every song here). “Sun Moon” threads in some mesmerizing quiet moments, as does “Soldier” with it’s echoey introductory and middle sections. “Empty Now” churns and charms like one of Billy Howerdel’s Ashes Divide tunes. My choice for mindblowingest track, by a significant margin, is “Skywatcher” – coming off the dark palate cleanser “A Ways Away” and crawling into being like any great album closer should, the song wends through chilly one-note solitude and hauntingly faded instrumental accents before imploding to white-dwarf density and dissolving into cosmic dust.

Not all the melodies work as well, maybe, as InAeona hoped, and occasionally the doubling (trebling?) of Lavaizar’s voice curdles, becomes strident or sounds too forced in places where allowing a more natural one-throat sound might have sufficed – she’s an undeniable powerhouse, and the band might want to embrace that strength rather than fuck with it. That’s just my opinion, but of course, that’s what we came looking for today, isn’t it?

Like the man said, InAeona’s Force Rise the Sun is out now on Prosthetic. Get it here.

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