Writing for the best heavy music website in the world* has its advantages. We all do this for the love of it alone, but every once in a while some fearless band will brave our gnarly jaws of scathing death and offer us their music to review. For free. This is seven shades of awesome (and we’d love to do it more often – see the contact page for details!), and much more likely to make us say nice things. Probably.
The most recent of these occurences was in relation to the upcoming Cyclamen/Haunted Shores Split EP. Two tracks each, fifteen minutes total: let’s go.
Haunted Shores are a band with a very ‘internalised’ family tree, to put it lightly. Main brain Mark Holcomb and studio man Misha Mansoor (who has a solo project called Bulb) are also in Of Man Not Of Machine (note the acronym). Recent addition Chris Baretto, who handles vocals, also used to be in Periphery with Mansoor. All three used to be in the Avengers, Justice League of America and the Minutemen.
One of these sentences is also a lie.
This was my first exposure to Haunted Shores, and it did take me a little while to ‘get’ them. At first I thought that the music itself was a little too finely tuned; I love to hear a band’s live sound, and as such I’m sometimes put off when I feel too much attention has been paid to every note in the production process.
But this quickly wore off; the musicianship itself more than makes up for it. In these times of over-chugging and fifty-seven million breakdowns per song, it’s refreshing to have something well constructed, melodic, and catchy.
I’ve also found myself impressed by Baretto. His command of his own voice is arresting to say the least: his throatier vocals are no less discernable from the clean, lyrically, and it’s deeply powerful to put it lightly. On researching Haunted Shores’ pre-Baretto tunes, I definitely think he adds something, rather than just being a vehicle to convey lyrics.
London/Tokyo-based Cyclamen offer a fine pair of follow-up tracks to last year’s Dreamers, which was one of my favourite small releases of 2009. As is well documented, Cyclamen’s first year or so rode solely on the back of songwriter Hayato Imanishi, who wrote, programmed and recorded pretty much everything. The project was started to fill the void left by British tech-metal heroes SikTh, and the influence is plain to hear right off the bat, but it is abundantly clear that Cyclamen is really finding its own sound.
The complex opening of It’s There suddenly segues into a chirpy J-pop influenced riff with hushed vocals. It’s an odd mesh to be sure, but I’m 99% convinced it works; especially when followed with as head-bangable a riff as I’ve heard this year.
I guess the most obvious comparison, if you’ve still not yet heard them, is with Envy; not just for the primarily Japanese vocals, but for the dichotomy of the savage vs. the tranquil. Whilst perhaps not as furious, Cyclamen bring a definite edge of catchiness over their more prolific contemporaries, which I suppose is something else drawn from SikTh. Don’t take this to mean they aren’t their own beast however. The band now has a proper full-time line up, and as they find their feet together, both live and writing, things can only improve. This is music for musicians, and it’s all manner of fantastic.
With solid offerings from both bands, this record would make a fine addition to your collection. If nothing else, for the artwork alone (cast your bleary eyes downward)!
- When In Olso (Haunted Shores)
- Sentient Glow (Haunted Shores)
- It’s There (Cyclamen)
- Let Go (Cyclamen)
The Cyclamen/Haunted Shores Split EP gets:
4/5 – Awesome!
The Cyclamen/Haunted Shores Split EP is out April 25th. Check the links below for how to get your grubby hands on a copy.