Dark Slate Records
Current Lineup: Perry Rose III (vocals), Brandon Caroll (guitar), Justin Sanders (bass), Matthew Brenner (drums)
Overall rating: 8.0 out of 10.0
1. Blistering (5:48)
2. Floodgates (5:02)
3. Count It Blessing (5:41)
Yummy...deathcore and keyboards! Second Thief's new EP Floodgates, released on Dark Slates records on December 6 as a digital-only download, is a delightful offering, to say the least. The band has been active since 2005 and has since released two full-lengths and four EP's. Yes, that's right. Four! I've been a fan of the band since a good friend suggested that I take a stab at their 2007 release Threshold, which put the band on my radar. Most people don't realize that they released a CD and an EP before that. In fact, I still can't track those down and still haven't been able to find a physical copy of Threshold... Maybe one of these days they will re-release their early material!
But back to the matter at hand. Natives of Jacksonville, FL, Second Thief is a band that is very passionate about their lyrics and music. I'm not sure exactly why they decided to sign a contract to do three EP's in a row, but it does seem to be gaining more popularity in the industry (i.e. Life in Your Way). I'm not a big fan of it myself. I want a full-length album more often. It's like asking for a foot-long sub and being given only a small bite out of the sandwich! Nevertheless, Second Thief has managed to deliver another tasty "bite" that has left me hungry for the main course.
Floodgates picks up where their last EP Brainwashed left off - it's an album full of guttural vocals and heavy guitar threads. They've put more clean vocals into the mix, which I very much enjoy (not because they are clean vocals, but because they are sung well), but there are a few things that really stand out about this album. First off, the keyboards. Wow! They are constantly in the background, sometimes coming to the forefront, and quite beautiful. It gives the band a melodic quality they have been lacking. While they've used keyboards to a limited degree before, Floodgates takes off with them at full throttle. The other thing is that the guitar playing itself is much more precise. While in the past sometimes I felt that riffs would just pile up on each other and sometimes get lost in the heavy mix of screams, drums, and bass, I can now pick out specific guitar lines and say, "Hey, that's cool!" or "Wow, that riff is freakin' awesome!" That's a definite plus. And the lyrics seem to be just as Christ-centered and positive as usual.
So what's still holding these Jacksonville boys down? While Second Thief is definitely progressing in the right direction, there is still a level of musical maturity that I find a bit lacking. I want more crescendos and decrescendos. I want tempo changes. I want some guitar solos. I don't think that's asking too much - I feel like Second Thief has the talent (and they showcase it very well in some sections), but they just need to go ahead and branch out some more. Don't be afraid to experiment musically as well as instrumentally. And finally, they need to get signed to a bigger label. They deserve a larger fan base. They have the potential to become as big or bigger than their spiritual brothers Impending Doom or In the Midst of Lions. Oh, and did I mention that I like the album art? It's sweet! Go out and purchase the EP and support an awesome band!
Breakdown by song (for those of you interested):
Floodgates begins with Blistering, a track alternating between heavier sections and background singing. The guitar riff mid-song, coupled with the keys, is an astonishingly beautiful moment. Overall it's a very solid song and an intelligent way to open up the EP.
Floodgates, the self-titled track, begins with a dynamic build up. The drums in this section are very well done. Perry Rose III bellows "Open the floodgates" and then a melodic guitar line kicks in. This song is definitely one of the best that they've written. It 's quite memorable, and this song really does show the expert musicianship of the band. Now if only they would do this more often!
A keyboard line opens up the EP closer Count It Blessing, a song that brings everything together. The guitar playing backed by the keys catches the listener's attention right away. The rest of the song is more traditional Second Thief material, albeit backed by the keys the rest of the way. Really, it's the only song that features a lot of breakdowns, but they aren't overused or cliche. The EP closes on a good note.
How did I come up with my rating? Well, I have this little scale that isn't technical at all, but merely shows how I enjoy the album.
1-2 (Poor - throw it in the trash, give it to your dog to chew on)
3-4 (Not very good, probably a waste of money - but there's been worse)
5-6 (Average, but not exactly knocking my socks off)
7-8 (Pretty darn good. The band's got what it takes to be a favorite of mine)
9-9.9 (Excellent. Will be on repeat for a very long time)
10.0 (Perfect rating. Doesn't really exist)
Let me know what you think!