Title: If This Is The End…
Release Date: Apr. 3, 2010
Review By: Scott L
- The Earth And The Air
- Good Morning, Sunset
- The Aftermath
- The Chase
- For What It’s Worth
- Don’t Hesitate
- Familiar Cold
- If I Lose Heart
- This Time Around
- The Downpour
I can still remember the many dark December mornings throughout my childhood that I would rise from a restless sleep to slink up the stairs to the wondrous sight of Christmas morning. The tree, seemingly perched on a mountain of presents. Bulging stockings hanging above the fireplace. The empty glass that once contained milk sitting next to the empty plate that once held cookies. This was the climax of Christmas. Because, although no presents had even been opened yet, the anticipation had reached it’s fevered peak. And no matter what treasures awaited in those carefully wrapped packages, nothing in the world could live up to the anticipation of a 10-year-old standing in his pajamas, basking in the twinkling lights at 6:00 a.m. on December 25th. Anticipation is a funny thing. It’s a two-edged sword to those responsible for meeting it. Anticipation builds interest, which is a great thing… but it also has the tendency to create unrealistic expectations. To say that my anticipation was high for this CD would be an understatement. When Mason told me several months ago that Thera (pronounced Th-ear-ah) would be heading into the studio to record a new full-length CD, I have to say that I was more than a little stoked with the news. I consider Thera to be the cream of the crop of Anchorage’s music scene at this point. So I’m pleased to say that having now had the opportunity to spend some time with their new 11-song release, my expectancy and anticipation has not only been met, but exceeded.
Thera is a female-fronted 5-piece out of Anchorage, Alaska. Made up of 4 guys and a gal, Thera plays a melodic brand of rock that is both hauntingly beautiful and pulse-poundingly intense. Think Flyleaf meets blessthefall with a more classically gothic influenced lead vocal delivery. Nothing against Lacey, she just doesn’t hold a candle to Stephanie Plate. Seriously. If you liked their 3-song EP, you’ll love this long-awaited full-length release. It’s more of everything that drew you to the band in the first place. A lot more. And it you didn’t like their EP, what the heck is wrong with you?
This time out, Thera kicks things up a few notches in every area. Two of the most noticeable improvements are in the guitars and in the vocals. That’s not to say that either of those was sub par previously, just that they’ve made a quantum leap forward from good to spectacular. The guitars single-handedly carry several of the songs and the vocal combinations are both captivating and intensely gratifying.
Packaging was done well. Gone is the simple white paper sleeve of the EP, and in it’s place a smartly conceived single-fold jacket. Production left a little bit to be desired in some places, but for the most part everything came through without sounding piecemeal. Of the 11-songs on the CD, 3 will be recognizable from Thera’s original EP. But far from simple filler, these tracks have been re-mixed with re-recorded vocals and fit in well with the CD’s overall feel.
While Thera has never been a band to get right up in a person’s face with an evangelistic message in their lyrics, the spiritual overtones and undercurrents are plain to see in most of their songs. Consider the song “The Earth And The Air” which says, “I am the one inside of the tower / I keep the fire / if I forget my purpose / then let the rocks cry / when you return reach for the sea / and I will reach for the sky / a selfless love / and eerie calm inside you / the earth and the air only matter if your here / so come so close / let me whisper in your ear / I will wait for you / if this is the end / then I’ll go with you / and we’ll live again / this life that I lives’ not my own / each word here is one that I’ve stole / each motion and thought that I hold / if you go, I go too / my wrists are bound (for you) / down here it is bedlam / you overwhelm me / the earth and the air only matter if your here / do come so close / let me whisper I am here”. Or the somber “Good Morning, Sunset” which says, “here’s where I said I’d be your only one / we sat with our backs to the fading sun / and now that this day’s become a dreary gray / I’ll pick through these notes to find the words to say / with my heart in my hand / and the world at an end / oh, my love / the sky has turned to red / stay close / I think that I might run / now the light has given up the fight / our world’s growing dark in a pressing night / and right now I’m scared I am trembling / my faith is a shell and I am crumbling / with my heart in my hand / and the world at an end / oh, my love / the sky has turned to red / stay close / I think that I might run / the moon has turned to blood / the stars are in the sea / no cars are in the street / and my knees are failing me / hand in hand / we watch the world end”.
The band’s bio says, “Stylistically, the music ranges from stratospheric choruses to crunchy breakdowns, piano balladry to screamo flirtations, acoustic strumming to searing leads. Lyrically, the songs face subjects such as loss, death, and regret, but always juxtaposed with a passion and hope intended to inspire the listener”.
The track that stood out the most for me was “The Earth And The Air”. Not only does it grab your attention with all the subtlety of running into a brick wall, but it holds it so strongly that you almost worry that it won’t ever let go. It’s a perfect CD opener and showcases the band’s talent very adeptly.
Overall: Thera’s new 11-song CD “If This Is The End…” is everything their fans hoped it would be. Soaring vocals over a bed of growling aggression. Grinding guitars. Thundering bass and pounding drums. Intensity and atmosphere to spare. Everything culminating to the perfect pitch in a combination that should earn them some much deserved attention. And having heard it, I for one certainly hope that this is not the end… but rather, just the beginning.
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