Artist: Sonset Down
Album: You Lose
Label: Wounded Records
Buy It: Interpunk
1. Medicine and Gold
2. And the Headline Reads…”Terror! Terror!”
3. Running From Serpents
4. Sleeping With Wolves
5. Bullets and Battle Scars
6. The Art of Combat
8. You Lose
10. The Outlaw: The Messenger
11. Blister (The Black Riders)
I apologize for the lateness of this review. Paraphrasing a line from A Few Good Men: “Since I don’t have a good excuse, I won’t bother coming up with a bad one.” In my defense, however, it has been rather hard to get this one out. I’ve been suffering general writer’s block since October, and this CD in particular has been really hard to review. Yeah, it’s been quite tricky figuring out what to say about Sonset Down, a group of men who play a less abrasive brand of hardcore filled with the Spirit and sweet tea. But, having begun the review in earnest by now, I dispense with the apologies.
At their core, Sonset Down are a Southern rock band. Yeah, sure; there is a good deal of hardcore barking (or perhaps yelping) on You Lose. Breakdowns abound, it is true. But they ground themselves in plain, old-fashioned rock music, sometimes even throwing in choruses with catchy — for the genre — vocal hooks, as on “Medicine and Gold.” This is a good thing for Sonset Down; the aforementioned chorus is one of the most memorable spots on the CD. Memorability is sometimes a problem for the band. We can be positive how these guys tune their guitars; the first eight songs are all in C# minor. At times, this is a problem Sonset Down can’t quite overcome. Songs like “Sleeping With Wolves,” despite excellent lyrics, tend to blend into the pack.
But in general, the band’s technicality makes up for its lack of diversity. Breakdowns rarely get boring, with pinch harmonics, dissonances and intricate lead parts interwoven. This puts them ahead of many of the other hardcore bands out there. In addition to this, the title track incorporates a driving two-step part, and a bridge on “Running From Serpents” slows to a crawl as Dan Webb almost starts a discussion with the listener. Parts like these keep listeners interested and allow songs to stand out. And the two instrumental tracks, in addition to breaking up what could have otherwise become monotony, are, to put it simply, very good. Have you ever heard a Southern rock band play post-rock? If not, “Casualties” is definitely worth a listen.
Sonset Down are also better lyrically than most of their peers. Lines like “God, keep our hearts from retreating…it’s Your heart we’re fighting for” and “When will the weak become the strong ones? Fear takes us to our knees…God, forgive us; we are the weak ones…” show that the Floridian collective lacks only exposure to be a Spirit-filled force in the independent hardcore scene today.
The problem, Josh, is that after all this, there’s really not much left to say. Sonset Down are very solid, very impressive and very fun. But I can’t really tell you that such-and-such a song was really cool, or that there were a lot of parts that captivate me even now. Some songs slide by almost entirely. Too much of the material sounds a little too similar. But reading through the lyric booklet is little short of inspiring, and the music is driving and makes me want to dance. And while this is probably bad in the sense that I’m a pitiful dancer, from a listener’s standpoint, it’s just one more point in Sonset Down’s favor. You Lose is quite solid. Hopefully the next one will be even better.
Yours most sincerely,
The Headless Horseman
Rating: Somewhere between 6 and 8 out of 10.
Standout tracks: Medicine and Gold, Casualties, You Lose
RIYL: Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, He is Legend’s Suck Out The Poison