Issachar

The Tide

01. Desert
02. Dust
03. Storm
04. Tide (I)
05. Tide (II)

[02/07/12]
[Self Released]

Before I go ahead and review this, I feel like I have to disclose the fact that former Heavy Blog writer Paul “Uncle Muscles” Meisner is the extremely talented guitarist for Issachar, so as the newest contributor for Heavy Blog I took it upon myself to review the album with no bias whatsoever, as my interactions with Paul have been minimal.

Anyways, Issachar are a quintet based in North Carolina. Normally, this type of music isn’t the most appealing to me; I’m not particular about the whole technical thing if it isn’t integrated with a more engaging element – whether it be a fretless bass or a keyboard or some soaring clean vocals – and straight aggression just isn’t my thing. I need that substance; something I can pick out and think back on as my favorite part. That’s why bands like Between the Buried and Me and Periphery are so appealing to me; not only are the heavy parts memorable, but there is also an element of variety that makes the song in itself memorable – that or a crazy rhythm, an electronic interlude or a polka section.

Luckily, bands like Issachar make sure my spoiled-rotten taste in music is littered with the stuff I look for in a band. Their debut EP The Tide is fantastic. I won’t say anything crazy, but if only one thing came out this year and it was The Tide, I would be perfectly happy.

The record really picked up after the crushing intro in ‘Desert.’ Although it initially sounded a little generic, that opinion got kicked out of the door in no time: the song started to get crazier and crazier, throwing in sweeps that were fucking insane and bass drops that just floored me; I was just totally mesmerized. The songs are very question-and-answer which is always welcoming. It gives it a linearity I can follow and predict, but left me satisfied after every couple of measures. That isn’t to say that this progressive death watchamacallit is totally predictable though. I previously mentioned it is littered with engaging elements, including some interludes akin to Explosions in the Sky and some interesting clean vocals that add a much appreciated contrast. The little post-rock sections come in every once in a while and they are stellar in their own right.

The instrumentation on this EP really shines. The lead guitar is very wanky, with sweeps and tapping around every corner, but not to the point where the ability upstaged the actual compositions. Though they are similar to most arpeggios you hear throughout tech metal, they are fresh and interesting here. Another nod goes to the rhythm guitar. Spencer and Paul do a great job making sure that both parts are equally complicated and interesting. The rhythm guitar at times is neither rhythm nor harmony, and at a few junctures there are two dueling guitars weaving highs and lows making things really interesting. The bass does a great job laying the foundation for the music as well. Lastly the drums are awesome. Very, very diverse performance here. I don’t think a single technique was used twice and the drum-lines in themselves are memorable and polished. The technical ability of this band should be well received as it is so impressive.

I initially couldn’t think of anything that makes this EP terrible – the transitions are excellent, the instruments hold their respective positions very definitively, and the record is diverse enough to not feel ripped off when it ends after a mere 20 minutes – but after discussion with my fellow blog mates I noticed a few small qualms. Unfortunately the mixing and production are a little lacklustre, and through headphones it actually sounds like two different bands.

This saddened me a bit, but I will not leave this review on a bad note: it remains a top notch EP, regardless of the mixing job. I stand by my love for it and will gladly recommend its excellence…AS SHOULD ALL OF YOU! You can hear it for free today!

Issachar – The Tide gets…

4/5

– CD

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