There is no shortage of reunions. There’s something special about a ten-year anniversary that invites bands to reunite, even if only for a single tour or new single. In the years apart, it shouldn’t surprise fans when new efforts from these bands are decidedly different than their earlier efforts – after all, the era of 2006 post-hardcore sunset years ago.
When Chasing Victory announced their reunion, I was intrigued to say the least. “I Call This Abandonment” was definitely my favorite release from them, and Unrequited Love has quite a reputation, even if it’s a bit infamous for being featured in the Metal By Numbers video. It was uncertain what their new sound would showcase, up until the release of their single, Friends. At this point, any expectation for screaming was quickly dispelled – but I’d argue the music has a bit more honest grit to it now, with its heaviness resulting more from tone and delivery than simple palm-muted power chords.
Overall, their new style is hard to classify: it’s aggressive without being overtly punk, and their a fair bit of sludgy parts mixed in as well. I guess you could say they’re playing in the same space as ’68 or He is Legend. It’s a good example of real rock n’ roll: high energy, strong melodies, and a mood that could fit any number of settings easily.
Adam Harrell’s vocals are one of the most noticeable changes – he’s no longer aiming for impossible tenor notes, and when he DOES sing a bit higher, it’s akin to some of the newer Circa Survive releases. He relies more on his modal register, and his voice has matured quite a bit (or, at the least, his influences have shifted to some large degree). He’s certainly embraced his southern heritage, too. There are some hints of Dallas Taylor mixed in.
The rest of the band are far from complacent as well. Kenosis sounds like it could be a lighter Norma Jean track, with a fair mix of heavy and melodic segments. Drums are non-intrusive and oscillate between delicate and intentional to full-out assaults on the kit. Ultimately, there’s a nice mix of grunge, punk, and southern rock influence that all members contribute to. The energy and groove definitely give “Friends Vol. 1” plenty of potential as a party album, and it’s accessible to the point where I could even see it used in a movie at some point.
Even so, the closing track, No Ragrets, is my personal favorite. It’s the most melodic track, and it’s definitely moody. “I let me down again, but in my own defense, I never said I was innocent,” Harrell cries out during the chorus. It’s a dissonant and emotional track with heavier lyrical content, but it all works together so well. Female guest harmonies add yet another layer to the song, and the track closes on groovy, bass-heavy segment. It’s a strong end to the EP.
Fans can be thankful, or hateful, that Chasing Victory is not relying on the nostalgia factor for this EP. They could have easily rebranded, as there are few nods to their earlier material. Perhaps if they had continued to release more music in the gap, it would seem like a more natural transition. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a rehash of “I Call This Abandonment”, you’ll be disappointed. Even so, Chasing Victory manages to bring in all the aggression and energy you’d expect – this time, a bit subdued and packaged quite a bit differently. The new vocal direction is definitely a highlight. The overall musical direction is a bit hit-and-miss. All members certainly know what they’re doing, but the change in style is a risk. The risk pays off on much of the EP, but there are a few weaker moments nonetheless.
Thankfully, with a title like “Vol. 1”, we can expect more material on the way. Chasing Victory certainly has potential with their new direction.
For fans of: Circa Survive, Norma Jean, He Is Legend, ’68