Sonificade – Despite All The Noise – Album Review
Despite All The Noise, there’s a complete celebration of all-things-rock on this new album from Sonificade. With a full eleven tracks that range and roam through the vast terrain within the genre & sub-genres from alternative to post-punk, to impressive hooks that have pop-inspirations and tremendous instrumentation to support all the ideas and their ambitions in-full. Searing guitar-notes and tones blast from the speakers in the main-riff that stokes the fire of the album’s lead-off/title-tune “Despite All The Noise.” It nearly sounds like early R.E.M., but played more aggressively…and that frantic energy will go on to fuel the music of Sonificade’s album throughout many of the songs to come. “Despite All The Noise” is a tremendous beginning to the experience – the chorus on this song is nothing short of phenomenal…the verse is solid enough in its chopped-out rhythm, but let’s be clear – it’s that explosive chorus that really gets the energy flowing quickly on this record. Absolutely astounding vocals in the chorus as well…and I dig how the beginning tune takes a turn towards that post-punk influence at the end…like an early version of The Cure, but again, more aggressive and punched-up in the mix compared to how thin those early records of both bands I’ve mentioned sounded. I am 100% loving what I’m hearing…and stoked to see where it’ll head to next.
Bass-led rhythms & grooves start out a solid punked-out but controlled thrash in the beginning of “Me Can Out” and once again, after a decent verse, Sonificade blows the roof off the place with another hard-hitting chorus that hits the mark. As it stands, the verse is nearly like one of the offshoot projects of Les Claypool, the chorus takes it closer to a more traditional-sound with more straight-ahead singing rather than the textured mix & sly delivery of the verse. Completely awesome grind on those guitars…definitely dig the supercharged move forward the song takes when they light-up the amplifiers. A solid effort in a more psychedelic-rock vein on “Me Can Out,” the instrumentation stood out to me a little more than the vocal hooks did on this cut.
And C’MON…if you’re not instantly hooked on “Regardless” then you’re not listening with your actual face! The music instantly grabs you…that frantic nature of the vocals comes out sounding natural, sincere, shaky, fragile and strong…all at the same time. It’s a raging pulse of emotion on full-display throughout “Regardless” – an easy pick as an early highlight on Despite All The Noise. Actually kind of reminds me of the band Fury In The Slaughterhouse a bit, if anyone knows the album Mono…similar vibe here in a way…or a little bit like Something For Kate or Vertical Horizon. I’ll say this…it didn’t have my favorite set of lyrics, but I love the way the words are actually delivered…if that makes any sense. The music is entirely solid, the vocal-delivery is as good as it can be…you can hear a slight trip in the metering in a few spots where an extra word or syllable to bounce off of would have been the perfect solution. But that’s nit-pickin’ a seriously good song at this point…I suppose that’s what I’m here to do…but yeah…there’s a heck of a lot of great things happening in this third cut that are perfectly worth the trade. Excellent backup vocals keep this song sounding intense, and right around the two-minute mark, the entire band is really sparkling with an audible magic you kinda can’t help but love.
The nearly eight-minute epic this four-piece goes on to create in “What If” slow-burns until it boils over-top. You can hear how well a tune like this would work live; the subtle rhythm section combo with slight keyboards adding to the atmosphere…right before James Best & Martin Byrne come ripping in on the vocals. There’s a gripping feel to the atmosphere…that ability to keep our attention in the loud/quiet combo, with an extraordinary rise to their distorted-best as the song progresses. Hard like a Quicksand song, still possessing melody at the forefront through both the music and vocals, Sonificade brings the intensity both slow & fast through “What If” in one of their most menacing environments. The climb back-in to their grinding guitars towards the sixth minute as they step out of the vocal breakdown is HUGE…guitars continue to fuel the ending in a serious barn-burner that will envelop ALL of the space for sound whatever room you’re in allows for as it surges towards the end.
In such a massive contrast to what you’ve heard so far, and especially where we just came out of from “What If” – I’ve got no doubt that “Caught In The Crossfire” is going to sound out of place to most people, including myself. At the moment, even with having taken this tune in several-times over now…I still feel the same way. “Caught In The Crossfire” serves well to broaden the scope of the styles of rock-music that line the album…but almost too easy for this band I’d say. It’s a tough one…I can hear that this is probably a lot of fun to bring out live, but I’m not so sure it worked for me on the record here. I dig the drum-solo from Rob Gill towards the end…but other than that I’ve had a much harder time with this more straight-ahead tune from Sonificade, especially when compared to the straight-up genius the music has been putting on display so far. “Caught In The Crossfire” is still played well…and as a song it works overall…I just don’t know that it suited this record as much as maybe a single on its own or another album entirely.
I was a little mixed on the ambitious “Wolf At The Door,” and I’ll say this about it…well, a reminder really: don’t forget that a musician hears the 5%. As in…when you make a song…that personal connection you have the moments you made it in…remembering where you struggled, where you got it right…they almost never leave you. If you compromise at any point, or say it’s ‘good enough’ when perhaps another take would have been justifiable…you’re dooming yourself to that 95%-is-awesome ratio vs. the 5% you wish you’d fought harder to change. I think “Wolf At The Door” is a tough & awkward song…it certainly has highlights about it like all of the music of Sonificade does…but if I’m being straight with the guys here, I’d have said a few more times around strengthening those harmonies would have done it. They’re 95% of the way there to where they need to be…but there’s still a little bit of dissonant tones between them that they’re just missing the ultimate power of where they can get to in perfect harmony. At least, that’s my take on “Wolf At The Door” – and truthfully, I think a track like this is unique & different enough to warrant that extra attention. The bass from Paul Richardson and drums of Rob Gill continue to show a band whose rhythm-section is perfectly in-step with each other. But yeah…I’d suspect they already know this, and they’re hearing this tiny 5%…it’ll serve as a lesson-learned along the way most likely…to never call it quits until you’ve got it just right. We’ve all done it. This time, it’s Sonificade’s turn…and it slightly costs “Wolf At The Door” but at the end of the day, the writing itself has a tough-to-be-loved progression to it – not unlikeable, but not as powerful as the other tracks we’ve heard so far. Honestly thought the last minute was completely brilliant…I’m not sure how much that counts for…but it makes for a perfect lead-in to “Take Me Home.” You’ll notice that the flow & transitions between these tracks make it move like one continuous album…many carry their ending into the beginning of the next in subtle ways that ease you right into their next idea.
“Take Me Home” incidentally, is made up of dreams and gorgeous melancholy. When you’re talking about the depth of atmosphere in a track, especially in a slow-song, this is what people should talk to. There are layers of emotion within the music and words…the isolated performance sounds extremely intimate & personal, honest, raw & real. The entire song and its enchanting guitars, sparkling keyboards and forlorn vocals work wonders while the bass groove keeps the track moving and Rob takes the cymbals for a ride. The bizarre buzz-solo from two & a half minutes in is pure genius…overall this entire track works supremely well…it’s a haze of dreamlike atmosphere that really holds you firmly in its fog.
To me, a track like “Far Away” for some reason felt like I could hear the influence of bands like old-school bands like Toto and Midnight Oil, all the way to modern-day acts like A Perfect Circle and The Black Angels. There’s a solid blend here…I was a bit bigger fan of the verse than I was of the chorus of this track personally…but for those that dig that big-anthem style of a chorus, this is definitely something you chant along to at one of their shows. That being said, the final verse and leading into that last chorus are probably one of the highlight moments for me on this entire record. A little mixed overall, but I think the energy is there and the explosiveness & punch in their music is solidly represented on “Far Away.”
The guitar/drum combination sounds incredible on “DUI” – very, very huge…like a Cold War Kids track in its spread-out mix and similar to an early R.E.M. track from around the Document era. In any event, this is a powerful tune emotionally no matter how you slice it…excellent music to begin with that starts hooking you in immediately, great drama & real emotion in the vocal performance…excellent explosion of distortion & keys burst in just before a minute in. You can hear what a release this song is…from the concrete-conviction and confidence of the verse, to the spot-on harmonies of the backing vocals in the chorus. It’s as artistic as it is full of spectacular rock-sounds and timeless moments…the kind of magic you find in The National or TV On The Radio…”DUI” is a big checkmark in the win-column for Sonificade.
With its Beatles-esque sound…or Feeder-esque sound…”Seasons” is immediately enticing to the earholes. The verse is as gentle & pillowy-soft as it gets…the chorus has seriously brilliant hooks in the melody, and the music fully delivers just as much as the vocals do. “Seasons” takes the sound of Sonificade to a whole different place – but at the end of the day, so did many of the songs on this record. Some of them worked great, others not as much, and then there’s “Seasons” – a song slyly placed towards the end of the record that highlights the fact that there’s still an entire song to go, and this band is not nearly out of tricks yet. A real star on this record – “Seasons” probably gets the seal of approval from many of you out there from its widespread crossover appeal…absolutely spot-on. Seriously impressive twist on the sound of the music on Despite All The Noise, and definitely an inviting sound…can’t see most people not seriously digging this track, “Seasons” is 100% awesome.
“Brain Disease” takes on a massively ambitious pursuit in a nearly eleven-minute epic. Proud to say I think they pull off the almost-eleven minutes pretty solidly throughout…very much into the Cold War Kids territory once again, but that’s good company to keep and it sounds much better than saying U2. Besides that…the final switch of the song isn’t something you’d be apt to hear from Bono & his crew…this grind is too good, too meaty, too big and too burly for that band to handle with their lighthearted approach. No…you get a proper Sonificade return to what’s made them sound spectacular throughout much of this record…true frenzy, madness, and all the bottled-up fury of the post-punk sound, exploding good & proper. Great effort by this band, sincerely…I’ve given them a few pointers on things I hear, but for the better-part of this entire review and experience, what I’ve been hearing is mostly-awesomeness. I’d think this record had a lot to do with ‘getting it out there’ and starting to really make the dream come true with this second record. Sonificade is solidifying their place in the music-scene…which should be the case when it comes to music this well made and this entertaining, shouldn’t it? It’ll be awesome to hear this band continually develop over time, and I’m already looking forward to what they might come up with next.
Find out a little bit more about my thoughts on Sonificade on the next episode of the SBS Podcast coming out late this morning/afternoon on June 14th, and support the band at their official pages at the official links below!