Metal musicians from well known and established acts are tasked with the unenviable task of having to constantly justify the purpose of any creative output delivered outside of their legacy act. Frontmen in particular are not only under pressure to deliver a product up to the standard set by their back catalog, but often have to prove themselves as competent musicians and songwriters in their own right. Ignoring the ironic-to-a-fault techno album released under the Giles moniker in 2004, it didn’t take long for Between the Buried and Me frontman Tommy Rogers to find purpose in music outside of extreme metal in his solo project Thomas Giles.
While the project’s debut album Pulse prided itself in its widely diverse sonic palate that properly (re)introduced Rogers as a formidable songwriter, its follow-up Modern Noise has a sense of cohesion that further establishes a distinct style and flair that is uniquely his own. In the past, with both Pulse and in his work in Between the Buried and Me, Rogers would have no problem swerving between and through a myriad of styles with reckless abandon. Modern Noise is a well-focused record that is held together by a hypnotic electronic-driven rock sound that grooves and drones with more hooks than it has any business carrying. Channeling swathes of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode, Modern Noise is also a far cry from the death metal inspired sound of Between the Buried and Me.
Highlights across Modern Noise include ‘Siphon the Bad Blood’, which sports bombastic guitar leads and a steady 5/4 groove, and the haunting and nearly avant-garde ‘We Wander Lonely’, both effectively book-ending the spectrum of sound that Rogers explores. Within these confines, ‘Mutilated World’ stylistically calls back to Pulse opener ‘Sleep Shake’ while ‘The Devil Net‘ focuses on dark atmospherics, robotic falsettos, and synth arpeggios. Rogers also makes time to toy with the thematic by establishing a ‘Noise’ motif that defines the entire album. The raw and bare ‘Noise Upon’ piano track sets up a tense chord progression that pays off later during the album’s closing title track, reprising the melody in a pulsating and climactic finale.
Of course, Rogers’ musical ADHD and broad array of influences is adequately represented. While the acoustic folk songs from Pulse are nowhere to be found on this outing, Rogers dons a raspy drawl for the blues vignette, ‘Blueberry Queen.‘ Prior to this, Rogers and BTBAM bandmate Paul Waggoner explore moody Pink Floyd-ian jazz fusion during the second half of ‘I Appear Disappear.‘ Yes, Modern Noise is relatively reigned-in, but there’s still plenty of room for experimentation, and while the songs themselves are often straightforward, the progressive rock vibe carried throughout the record should appeal to longtime fans.
So as it stands, while Modern Noise is not as overtly ambitious in scope as Pulse, this is the biggest statement Rogers has made for himself thus far in his career as a musician and songwriter. It is commendable that Rogers has been able to craft such high quality output in some form or fashion so frequently while compartmentalizing both his projects on top of becoming a father in recent years (a topic explored on the irreverently-titled ‘lkcvjvhljbvjΓëÑ╦£Γêå╦Ünnnjmkjijm’). Immediately after the Modern Noise sessions, Between the Buried and Me started work on their hotly anticipated new rock opera, and it’s safe to assume that Rogers hasn’t withheld his best material from this project. Tommy Rogers has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Thomas Giles is no mere exercise in vanity, nor is it a slave to Between the Buried and Me.
Thomas Giles – Modern Noise gets…