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Anticipation for Apart’s new album has been hotly building for a while now. The emotional hardcore band from Greenville has toured, teased new songs, and signed to independent rock label, Mayfly Records since 2011′s Only Revolutions EP, steadily garnering a rock solid reputation for evocative, heavy material that never tapers off into the tawdry archetypes of the genre often associated when the word “hardcore.” In just eight tracks, Gray Light sets the bar high for any newcoming acts venturing into similar territory, as the band stays true to their name by separating themselves from other artists sharing the genre namesake and further establishes their reputation for quality sound in their first full length.
Upon hearing the opener, “Carolina Cold,” I was struck by both the power of the poetic lyricism and the abandonment of traditional lyrical song structure. Moreover, I was surprised most by how I didn’t even realize the lack of a verse-chorus-verse structure until after the track finished. All I focused on the entire near three minute runtime were the words being screamed and the lovely dichotomy between the harsh emotion of the vocals compared to the bleak, but much quieter instrumentals.
I cannot stress enough how fantastic the instrumentals are. They come across like someone injected adrenaline into your favorite post-rock bands and give them a swift kick in the ass. They serve as a great contrast to the ferocious energy of the vocals as opposed to the typical posing metal tropes attempting to be as “br00tal” as possible. Each song feels like something that was purposefully composed as an artistic expression rather than a product. Frankly, the music’s simply beautiful. It reminds me of what the hardcore/screamo scene could have progressed into before it was bought, packaged, and sold by Hot Topic to every mall goth who ever thought they had a real problem.
Even when the music picks up a tad more aggressively like in “Blindfolds,” it feels like a natural build-up within the bands sound rather than “This is our heavier song.” It’s short, fast, hard hitting, and as a result, more impactful. I felt it contained a little bit of an old punk influence in its execution, but that could just be me.
“Dead Air” ends the album as a mesmerizing, haunting track musically layered with so much atmosphere and raw atmosphere, it could have only been chosen as the finale. The interlacing guitar work through the tempo changes create some of the most gorgeous sounding moments on the record and the vocal energy never once wavers. As the biggest sounding track on the record, the song is certainly poised to leave listeners aching for more.
As someone who understands others’ hesitance about the genre, I can attest to the fact that Gray Light is a beautiful record. Side-stepping conventions to make an album chronicling intense moments of raw emotion perfectly encapsulated by the lyricism and brought to life by the continually engaging rock compositions, this is not one to miss. These are eight the very good reasons why Apart have been building nothing but a good name for itself, and why you should not be surprised when people look back on this record as the point when things exploded for the band. 2012 should be a very interesting year for Apart, but goddamn, they earned it.
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