PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Alesana: A Place Where the Sun is Silent

Alesana provides a good example of why it's pleasant to remember the past, but not to live in it.


Alesana

A Place Where the Sun is Silent

Label: Epitaph
US Release Date: 2011-10-18
UK Release Date: 2011-10-18
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

As hard as it is to believe that there’s still someone out there clamoring for the same poppy sing/scream emo anthems that were blaring through many a college dorm room in 2004, apparently there still exists an audience for bands like Alesana. While the rest of the scene has moved on to whatever synth-laced Nintendo-core is currently cool enough to be mistaken for a Skrillex remix, the brave men of Alesana have chosen to stick it out to the bitter end – plodding down the path of a subgenre that has gasped its last. Even more unfortunate, that path is well worn by bands with ten times their talent. Nevertheless, A Place Where the Sun is Silent not-so-boldly goes where hundreds of bands have gone before.

In case you haven’t caught on yet, there’s nothing groud-breaking on this, the fourth full-length from the Raleigh, NC, rock sextet. In fact, Alesana appears to have reached back into the screamo canon and rehashed as many oft-used devices as humanly possible. There’s angst ridden storytelling (see: Hawthorne Heights), layered growl/shriek screams (see: Bring Me the Horizon), whispery spoken word lyrics (see: Thursday), fast-paced guitar riffs with gritty emo vocals (see: From First to Last), and even some interludes featuring a deep voice speaking in another language (see: Underoath). While each of the above listed bands could be accused of riding the scene-wave at one point or another, they were at least doing something somewhat original and, for better or worse, they each adapted to the changing musical climate by showcasing maturity and growth while shifting their sound. The problem with Alesana is that on their fourth go around, they are still clinging to the same formula they started with.

While their 2010 album The Emptiness was told in chapters, A Place Where the Sun is Silent is broken into two acts – “The Gate” and “The Immortal Still”. There’s a story being told here somewhat resembling Dante’s Inferno. It’s dark and there’s lots of talk of a “temptress”, a “path”, and a “veil”. The lyrical content of A Place Where the Sun is Silent serves to be the worst kind of poetry; it’s contrived, shallow, and maddeningly cliché. Furthermore, the album drags us through a grueling 16 tracks without ever giving the impression that the story is actually progressing. Instead of ending up as a different, unique take on an old story, it comes off as a bad and very vague take on any given “dark” narrative.

Mercifully, there appears to be a dash of talent found amidst Alesana’s members that you can catch in quick flashes if you’re dedicated enough to wait. Although it feels out of place, there’s an enjoyable guitar solo during the bridge of “Beyond the Sacred Glass”. Also, the tempo changes and catchy melodies found on “Circle VII: Sins of the Lion” are interesting enough to hold your attention. Unfortunately, these tolerable moments don’t justify the hour-long running time nor do they merit repeated listens. In a time when so many of us bellyache about having to pay 10 bucks for a handful of songs, it’s clear in this case that quality far outweighs quantity when it comes to our music consumption.

Concept albums are nothing new in the realm of recorded music, especially in this genre. Coheed and Cambria have been unfolding a story over the course of the past decade and manage to maintain relevance with each new album for a couple of reasons. For one, Claudio Sanchez is an entertaining and exciting storyteller whose ideas remain fresh and interesting. Also, the band’s evolving sound adds a layer of intrigue to each new chapter of the story, allowing the listener to enter without feeling as though they’ve heard it all before. A number of bands over the past few years have chosen to push the boundaries of post-hardcore in an effort to expand the genre and experiment with new sounds and have done so successfully. There’s not an excuse for treading water when the rest of the pack has moved ahead, taking the listeners with them. Alesana would be wise to take note of this before their “legacy” becomes that of a band who used their talents to poorly mimic those who came before them.

3

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.