During the summer, Studying released their first full length LP along with a statement that it would be their final release and that the band was breaking up. Members of Studying would continue to make music either with existing projects such as Caust (see my review of ‘Mass Graves’) and Perfect Future or go on to record as new projects like ‘Kaworu Nagisa’. Member Ted Gordon played in Solomon Solomon, a four-piece hardcore / screamo band from Annandale, VA during Studying’s rather short-lived lifespan. The band first caught my attention with the release of a three track demo album in 2011 but other than that they have remained relatively stagnent until the compilation release, ‘Lent, or, ink on’, an album collecting the few songs they wrote while they were together which was followed by the announcement of the band’s breakup.
Although a fan of many screamo / emotive hardcore bands, primarily ones from the late 90’s to the early 00’s many of the more recent incarnations of the genre just haven’t done much for me. It isn’t so much a problem with what the music sounds like, I do have a large soft spot for the more aggressive strains of hardcore music but rather that many of these bands end up coming off as lackluster clones or watered down versions of what some of the earlier bands, ones that helped shape the genre into what it has become today, bands such as Orchid, Pg.99, and Saetia, along with what many others did when the scene was at its peak. With rising bands like Pianos Become The Teeth and legendary early 00’s band Circle Take The Square putting out new material the genre is seeing a revival as a new wave of hardcore begins to take shape. As I said before, this new wave didn’t really have the same impact on me as it did the first time around but there are the few bands that do stick out and make a sturdy place for themselves, one of those bands is Solomon Solomon.
On the demo release the band exhibited their style of hardcore music infused with the instrumental dynamics found in many post-rock structured songs drawing comparisons to early 00’s screamo bands like Circle Takes The Square and namely City of Caterpillar whose brooding lengthy songs, songs that are winding, building, cathartic, and climactic became traits that took from the more obvious cliches of post-rock and applied them to their bone breaking compositions, a defining aspect of their brand of screamo that made them unique. The band was one of the first and most successful within the genre to begin taking influence from post-rock music and applying it to hardcore in this way which as of late has kind of become a growing trend in hardcore and screamo music. Like Studying the band does well in finding an even mixture between the twinkling tremolos and the signature quite / loud crescendo structured sound of post-rock while keeping ties with their punk roots although unlike Studying this projects leans a bit more toward the loud stylings of punk music. The three tracks heard on the demo release left an impression on me for their energy and some of the standout climactic moments, in particular on the closing track ‘Philia’, a track that builds to a climax for the 11 minutes that the tracks lasts showcasing the band’s ambitious songwriting abilities. The three songs heard on the demo see an appearance as reworked tracks on this full length compilation along with the addition of three never before released tracks.
Seeing as this is a compilation I was pleasantly surprised to find that this collection of tracks keep with a consistent sound which does nicely in making this release sound not so much like what it actually is, a collection of songs but rather a fully realized album. The energy that I liked so much when listening to the band’s demo is ever present if not even more so than it was. Where the three previously release demo tracks did give off this anthemic experience I found that they did lack the overall cinematic experience that the songs hinted at separately; I didn’t find that it worked as well as a whole. Thankfully, ‘Lent, or, ink, on’ addresses this issue as the album opens with a brief vocal sample that soon leads into some spastic instrumental work. I really appreciate the variation heard here which becomes an standout characteristic as the track eventually works itself into a clean section of weaving guitar work before picking back up, followed by some hair raising vocals. Throughout the entirety of the album Solomon Solomon combines energy with melodic and varied passages of strong instrumental work.
On Solomon Solomon’s 2011 demo I noted the track ‘Philia’ as my favorite on the album with it’s powerfully digry builds, blisteringly emotive screams, and thunderous drum fills it was an undeniably standout track amongst a set of two other already solid pieces. Although still remaining one of my favorite tracks I actually prefer the demo version of the ‘Philia’ rather than the version heard on this compilation. While the other two tracks featured on the demo do make an appearance on this release and do differ from their demo counterparts the differences on ‘Philia’ leave me feeling hot and cold. While the production sounds better in some areas, especially on the sample which features the famous speech from the film ‘The Network”, essentially the backbone of this track some other aspects of the production feel lacking, specifically the drums. On the demo version of the song the drums were thunderous, in particular toward the end of the track where everything climaxes but on this version it just doesn’t feel as powerful.
It is disappointing to see this project end like it did but ‘Lent, or, ink on’ does a good job of tying up loose ends and finally allowing listeners to hear a complete idea of what Solomon Solomon was. If you’re into early screamo this project pays respect to familiar sounds without sounding like just another clone; a reminder that this genre is very much alive even if the projects within it aren’t.
Overall Rating: 7.7
Favorites Tracks: ‘A Being Creates Itself’, ‘Through The Gaze of Looking In’, ‘Philia’
Recommended: Studying, Caust, City of Caterpillar
Released: 30 July 2012
Links: Listen here.