In a complete 180 degree turn from yesterday’s article I’m now going to bring you something from a band that I personally had never heard of until now. (Sorry guys!) As you know I’m all about honesty over here so I’m not going to pretend.
Hailing from Knoxville Tennessee, USA Straight Line Stitch are Alexis Brown (Vocals) Jason White (Guitar) Jackie Bergjans (Guitar) and Darren McClelland. (Bass) Since initially forming back in 2000 the band have been on a serious roller-coaster, there have been ups, downs, line-up changes , label changes and they have been written off more than once but as of now they are back and more importantly back on their terms.
Transparency pulls no punches, and makes no compromises. Just from listening to the music and doing a little research about the band and the EP you get the impression that this is the record that they have always wanted to make. In a recent interview with Arena.com front-woman Alexis broke it down even further, explaining how the record shows the band’s journey back from the brink.
“This album was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. After living in a living hell for a couple of years, this record was a testament to that — it embodied everything from our epic fall from grace to picking ourselves back up and continuing to carry on even when all hope seemed lost.”
Bands always throw around themes and concepts when they release a record and normally they’re complete crap, the words just make a nice soundbite. But on this follow up to their 2014 self-titled EP you can feel the passion, feel the heartache, and feel the desire to come back. That quote I linked above isn’t just words, and this EP is everything that Alexis says it is. Transparency is 6 tracks of ass kicking and name taking which will leave you thirsty for more.
Right from the opening strains of Out Of The Shadows you know it’s on. The track is basically just an intro to the EP as a whole; it’s a slow, gentle, eerie atmosphere builder which lulls you in before lead single Dark Matter smacks you in the face. I’m calling it now; this is one of the best metal tracks that I have heard this year. It’s just over four minutes of hammering melodic savagery. The contrast between the ‘scream’ and ‘clean’ sections of the vocal is a beautiful thing to behold. For bands like SLS getting the balance right between these two dynamics is essential, get it wrong and the flow of the track is completely off, but this is absolutely spot on. Everything about the track just works; love it.
All of this chaos slides beautifully into Out Of Body which for most part is a completely different affair. It’s slower and more atmospheric through the verses which lead to a series of monster hooks. The disappearance of the killer screams which batter the previous track put this one pretty much in straight hard rock territory. However the band couldn’t just leave it there as things kick back up multiple gears with around a third of the track to go. This slower more docile style is only brief respite though as the chaos returns with a vengeance on Fear Of God.
Straight from the off the track just mercilessly beats up your senses and it enjoys doing it. The screams are back set against riffs as crushing as the likes of Slipknot have ever come with. I like every track on the record but this is another one which just stands out above the rest, you can feel the relentless energy and passion transferring from the music and into your body, played live this tune must be unreal. Penultimate track Wilderness captures the whole story around this record in four and a bit chaotic minutes. The line which opens the chorus ‘And I know exactly where I’m at, and I’m not looking back’ just absolutely nails it. Concussive drums, heavy as sin bass and guitar riffs and killer vocals, all the bands hallmarks are here on what is another quality track.
The band have recently shot a video for closing track and joint lead single Human Bondage and after what I’ve read earlier along with hearing the track itself I can’t wait to see it. In a nutshell it’s a story of a search for absolution and forgiveness set against a barrage of drums beats and guitar riffs which would make a warzone sound like a library. Throw in a few slower, more melody driven sections on top of all of that and you’ve got one hell of a final track.
Transparency is an absolutely fantastic metal record; it’s just got the lot. I don’t know what it is but something about the band’s music and the way that they talk about it just makes me want them to succeed. I opened this review by saying that I had never heard of SLS, but now I think I’m going to be banging the Straight Line Stitch drum in a big way. I’m a believer.
Transparency is officially released on June 30th.