Troubled Coast – Awake and Empty Review
Rating: Sometimes it can be hard to explain the role of distorted vocals to those who are not familiar with…
Sometimes it can be hard to explain the role of distorted vocals to those who are not familiar with the more –core side of music. While it’s very often used as the most brutal form of vocal delivery to fit the music (see: low tone Slam gurgles) it is commonly used as an expression of emotion in genres such as Post-Hardcore. The screams represent less of a fitting puzzle piece to the overall aggression of the music and instead represent the emotional tone of the vocalist. One of the best examples of this in my opinion is La Dispute’s first album Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega and Altair where Jordan Deryer’s changes between singing and screaming showcases the dynamics of the vocal’s emotions.
Falling much into the same vein of Post-Hardcore Troubled Coast’s new release Awake and Empty delivers the same type of emotional punch. Awake and Empty features a much fuller sound as the defining trait of the instrumental sections is the delay-laden lead guitar, giving way to a much bigger bodied, ethereal tone to the music as a whole. This is probably the most distinctive trait to the album as a whole and while it can be relied on a little heavily (the first half of the album starts out with it a lot) it definitely shines through as one of the best spices in this pot.
The spotlight moment for the guitar is Missoula/Big Sur as the second half of the song all the other instruments give way and we are treated to a fantastic solo audition from the delay guitars that in all honesty is one of the best parts of the album as a whole. It is able to break away from the intensity of the music and setup some great dynamic contrast while building on the emotional moods already defined by the album’s halfway point.
The vocals are both sung and screamed when the time calls for it by Mike Scornaienchi and I must say he does an impressive job. The vocals throughout the whole album sound fantastic and the decisions to add or remove distortion fit the music perfectly. This is especially apparent when coupled with memorable lyrics and no song does this better than the album’s first single Winter. All aspects of the song are in such perfect harmony with each other that every move seems so fluent and complementary when changing emotions. Winter is easily one of the highlights of the album and does a great job of setting the rest of the album up as it is the second track coming in behind album opener Brother.
Another standout performance by Scornaienchi is Twenty. This song features a much more subdued instrumental backing and in so gently pushes Scornaienchi’s performance further in front, especially in the verses where there is a more minimal aspect to the background instrumentation. Between the performance of the vocals and the instrumental aspects taking more of a backseat (listen for the much-reduced appearances of the high-pitched delayed guitars, a mainstay in much of the album) this song is a great contrast in the album especially coming right after Missoula/Big Sur.
Awake and Empty is a fantastic album front to back. The songwriting makes for a smooth journey that makes all the right moves to keep the listener engaged throughout the entire ride. The music is powerful and emotional with the right amount of dark and bleak without becoming engulfed with it, creating a dynamic experience that is not only hard-hitting but quite memorable.
Awake and Empty is to be released October 9th on Pure Noise Records.