By Lane Oliver
So is the Tongue are preparing to release their sophomore LP, A Child of Divorce, on January 17th. I was able to get my hands on it a little early and decided to give it listen. What caught my attention was the fact that the album’s music was engineered, mixed and mastered by Colin Marston (Krallice, Dysrhythmia) and the vocals were recorded by Chris Alfano of East of the Wall. After finding out this juicy little tidbit of information, I knew I had to listen to it. I didn’t know what I was in for, but I was pleasantly surprised.
So is the Tongue’s music is a little difficult to describe. They combine elements of post-rock, jazz, progressive and technical metal (but less metal than you think). If I had to compare them to another band, I would say they are most like East of the Wall. But at the same time, they are nothing like them. So is the Tongue have a musical personality all their own, which makes for a great auditory experience. A Child of Divorce opens up with a melancholic, delay effect laden instrumental on “Pt. 1”, one of three instrumental interludes. Then the album kicks off with the jazzy “Conflicting Stories”. The guitars are slightly distorted and sound extremely crisp. In fact, all of the instruments are very crisp and polished sounding but not so much so that it comes off as gimmicky. This album was mixed quite well. But I digress. This whole track is very jazz laden with Ron Varod’s vocals soaring over the most erratic musical moments. His vocals really stand out near the beginning of the track where his high tenor is fluttering over an erratic yet beautiful display of musicianship. He demands to be heard, and with an aurally pleasing clean vocal style, it’s a pleasure to hear him sing. He also has an earth shattering scream that creeps in a certain moments of this song, but really doesn’t show all of itself until later in the album. “Conflicted Stories” leads into the next interlude, “Pt. II”, which is just as melancholic yet gorgeous sounding as “Pt. 1”. This little instrumental only lasts a little over two minutes and leads into “Either Way”. “Either Way” begins with a calm cleanly played riff accompanied by droning, choral like vocals that soon take off into a short but sweet melodious yet aggressive post-rockish tangent. Then the song goes back into a calm, cleanly played section (that also showcases some acoustic guitar sections) that is dripping with melancholy and a little reverb. On this section, Varod shows off his well executed falsetto. This whole middle section was one of my favorite moments on this LP. I am a sucker for melodious, “beautiful” moments in music and this section nails it. Then bass becomes more distorted and the pace picks up while the same set of lyrics repeats until the end but with more force and emphasis. Then it ends with a single echoed chord that leads into “People Don’t Forget”. This is where the band begins to show their heavier side. “People Don’t Forget” begins very post-rock and jazz like, much like the other tracks on this record thus far. But around the 3:30 mark the distortion kicks in and the heaviness begins. A short screeching guitar “solo” gives way to a heavy, catchy riff that repeats itself quite a bit during the second half of the song. This is also where screamed vocals take the main stage during this heavy section. Near the end of the song the guitars start this sludgy riff pattern that is essential three distortion soaked chords followed by a random, noisy harmonic(s). Then it leads right into the final instrumental interlude “Pt. III” that is less jazzy then the previous ones. This one is a short folky tune that features some very western-esque slide guitar. It sounds like one of those songs that would be played around a campfire. Near the end, feedback begins to erupt and signals “You’re Nobody”, the final track to begin. This feedback/wall of sound continues for almost two minutes before the song explodes with progressive metal intensity with a slight tech metal flavor. The album was becoming increasingly heavier from the beginning! “You’re Nobody” is a thirteen minute long monster full of jarring technical musicianship. Some of these tech metal inspired sections remind me a little of Dysrhythmia. What a coincidence that this album was mastered by a member of Dysrhythmia. This song also features a Warr Guitar section in the middle from Colin Marston himself. The song pummels you with progressive (and sometimes, a hint of black metal) metal goodness for about seven and a half minutes and the song transitions into a very soft section that lasts until the end. “You’re Nobody” is the heaviest song on the record but also contains one of the most gorgeous sounding sections on the record. How ironic. The album ends with a feeling of resolution, much like how a film should end. But it left me wanting more. This album was one hell of a ride.
One problem I had with this record, unfortunately, was that some of the transitions from soft to heavy seemed very forced. An example of this would be in the final track, “You’re Nobody”. Around the four minute mark while the track is still during its heavy phase, it abruptly changes to a short soft, cleanly played section without warning. This moment comes out of nowhere and interrupts the flow of the song and sounds so forced and really took away from the song in my opinion. They needed to make transitions smoother and less abrupt.
All in all, this is probably the first great record of 2012. If you’re looking for a unique sounding record then look no further. It’s mostly a melodic record but when they decide to bust out the heaviness, they go all out. I look forward to seeing what these guys do next.
Label: Nefarious Industries
For fans of: East of the Wall, Milk White Throat, Dysrhythmia,
Favorite Tracks: “Either Way”, “You’re Nobody”
If you are interested in pre-ordering the album, go here. It will be officially released on the 17th.