Album Review :
ActionReaction "3 Is the Magic Number"

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Artist: ActionReaction
Album: 3 Is the Magic Number
Label: Hope Division/ Equal Vision Records
Review by: Eric

When singer Jason Gleason suddenly left Further Seems Forever a few years ago, fans were crushed, and I know that I thought I would never hear his voice again outside of the How to Start a Fire album. Then, about a year ago, I caught word of a new band, ActionReaction, which featured Jason Gleason on vocals. I was ecstatic as I clicked the link to listen to the first download, “Bang, Bang.” I was thrilled to hear that voice again, but the music was different this time around. It was less emotionally driven and more driven by a passion for music, a passion for playing something a little different than ever before and pushing the limits of their genre with each new song. I soon learned that Bella and Salvatore, ActionReaction’s other two members, had come from Jason’s old Tooth & Nail labelmates, Element 101. They signed to Hope Division/ Equal Vision Records, and on August 22nd, 2006, the debut album 3 Is the Magic Number finally hit stores.

The disc starts out mysteriously with “Sinner’s Algebra,” with it’s slow guitars and string effects, and hand claps during the quick drum beat. But as soon as you get into the catchy chorus, you realize the rest of the album has the distinct possibility of being an artistic masterpiece. The upbeat “Can You Hear the Sun?” shows off the great use of background vocals and additional electronic programming without getting into the techno realms of their peers’ synth effects. Some of you may recognize the next song, “March On” as the second download from the beginning of this band. This song claims “we’ve lost ourselves to the great unknown” and complains about selling out to the media, but still offers hope with it’s danceable disco beat and contains a bridge sung by a deep men’s choir repeating the phrase “come inside, come as you are” while Jason sings over top of them “we march on and on and on until we see this through” and it just goes to show how creative ActionReaction is. “At the Moon” has some nice guitar work and is a slightly slower song, which does well to lead into “Come See My Grave,” the slowest song on the album. The chorus cries out “I would like to recognize my friends by which way they walk, not how far they run away,” and it sounds to me like it could be “A Blank Page Empire” part two. The track ends with a bluesy group singing the more passionate closing bridge with hand claps. Jason Gleason’s deeply poetic and mysterious lyrics continue through “The Exit Poll Amen” and “Contagious.” “With My Voice” is a slightly darker tune about getting through the trials of life but offers the hope that “at least we know our souls are not for sale.” The next thing you know, you’re hearing a drum beat that could be almost tribal as “The 21 Gun Salute” begins. “Have a Cocktail” is another passionately sung and played track with clever lyrics and well placed backing vocals. This record comes to a close on “Spark the Sun,” a six minute song that does well to bring together everything else we’ve heard thus far. It ends with about a minute of nothing but a string instrument, which I believe to be the harp. If you allow this track to play, in typical Equal Vision fashion, after a few minutes the music will pick up again with a little surprise.

Jason, Bella, and Salvatore truly have put together something that is unique in today’s scene, yet familiar enough to draw us all in. This is one of few releases that I can say I am impressed with the orchestration of each instrument involved. Some of you may be turned off by how hard it is to figure out the meaning of each song, but looking back on How to Start a Fire, I would have expected nothing else from Gleason. Basically, if you like music, you should like ActionReaction. That’s just how it works.

8/10

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