[9 July 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
“We are born of destruction / Spitting fire is all we’ve ever known / We’ll make you want to tear your eyes out,” goes the first lyrics heard on Washington, DC’s the Relapse Symphony’s debut album, Shadows, and that’s pretty much as good of a mission statement as anything. Shadows deftly manages to merge emo with punk rock with hints of ‘80s glam metal with all of the requisite guitar shredding and histrionics that that may suggest. And it’s largely an effective mix, tossed in with quiet and contemplative piano melodies here and there, drawing parallels to classic music, which, of course, metal takes cues from. The only real drawback is the lead singing, which is about as close to pop punk you can get without the band sounding like it’s just a carbon copy of blink-182.
Still, Shadows is a dark, yet poppy, and affecting listen, for as much as it is a throwback to the cheesy days of the ‘80s, it is fun and full of reckless abandon. The sound is incredibly streamlined, and, thankfully, there are no power ballads that are a hallmark of part of what this music reaches back towards. The Relapse Symphony basically takes the ball and runs with it, effectively merging different genres of music to enjoyable effect. While there are no standout tracks, that’s also part of what makes Shadows so appealing: it largely works as a coherent whole. Nod your head and raise your fist into the air to this one. This is the sound of a band making waves, and, despite its slight faults, it’s largely enjoyable and a soundtrack to your next backyard summer barbecue.