The Key Of Green – Precedence & The Silent Wheel – Album Review
Last year, back in a world where the very beginning of the rumbles of the pandemic era we’d all be stuck in soon to come were just starting to circulate and life was still “normal” by however we chose to define the word, The Key Of Green just released their debut EP, Metaphorical Fires. Take stock of that for a second…no matter who you are, musician or not, you can understand what the excitement of creating something altogether NEW would be like & how much it could potentially suck to have the momentum meet the impossible brick wall of isolated times – horrendous! Now imagine you were like, I dunno, somewhat sitting on all this talent since you first started making music together like the duo of Evan and Charles had been doing since back in 2009 just waiting for the opportunity & a little space in life to turn up the amplifiers and let it RIP…and you finally get your moment in early 2020 over a decade later…
…I suppose what I’m saying is, I’m fucking THANKFUL right now.
If you’re reading all these tea leaves correctly, this could have easily been the tragic story of a band that started, stopped, and never returned, simply based on the impossibilities that lay ahead of the entire scene and the obstruction of isolation. I urge the many of you out there that could be in similar boats, to take a page out of The Key Of Green’s playbook here…and however you can do it, find a way to keep going. I honestly don’t know too much about HOW they pulled off everything they’ve accomplished here on this second record…the magic of the internet era I’d imagine…but however they did it, however they survived, and whatever inspired them to keep going, I’m absolutely fucking thankful for all of that.
Because rather than a ‘one and done’ – now we’ve got an incredible second record that completely takes this whole adventure The Key Of Green has been on…to say the very least, miles further than they’ve had the opportunity to venture before. Something like 21894 miles off the coast of Dutch Harbor for you fans of Deadliest Catch…I’d have to check my nautical map & compass to be 100% sure. But here’s what I can tell ya with certainty before I even discuss their new record…it’s actually a fact that their debut EP Metaphorical Fires landed on my shortlist towards our top-ten last year for the majority of 2020 – this band is that DIFFERENT, that SKILLED, and that MEMORABLE, that it would have been a completely justifiable inclusion. It was a debut to be more than proud of – and perhaps had they not hinted at so much more potential, maybe I would have put them on my list right away…but it’s audibly undeniable that when you listen to Metaphorical Fires, you can like, somehow see in your mind all the millions of places a band with talent like these two have got can go. Armed with all the artistic integrity you’d ever wanna hear and the damn courage it takes to use it like the asset it IS – The Key Of Green make a supreme impact by going their own way and doing what naturally comes to them – and it’s working. You won’t hear anything that’s gonna remind you of them…it’s damn near impossible to glean any one comparison or similarity that’ll ever come close to describing what they do in-full…and here on their new album Precedence & The Silent Wheel, they’ve taken everything up to the next level. As impressive as their debut EP still is now to this day…I fully believed that the best was still yet to come; it’s still early on into their career as a band officially releasing music out there into the world and hindsight might very well eventually prove they’ll just continually get better & better over time – but they’ve definitely made a sound argument here that Precedence & The Silent Wheel is their best to-date. So how about that? Remarkable improvement from last time to now, and you’ll hear it immediately. My point, I suppose, is that they’ve already BEEN firing at an all-star level…and their best years might still be ahead of’em…that’s possible of course…but man-oh-MAN are you gonna dig where they’re at NOW. It’s hard to wish for the upcoming future when they’ve got the present sounding so damn good.
Like, I’ll put it to you this way…if I was approached by someone that can’t get behind the way that “Box Spring” comes leaping outta your speakers and delivers that instant crunch of kickass awesomeness – then I’d be like, pretty damn sure we’re not gonna be friends for a very long time, you feelin’ me? Because if you’re living anywhere within earshot of where I’m at here rockin’ the nation’s capital of Canada – you’ll be hearing PLENTY of “Box Spring” and the rest of Precedence & The Silent Wheel BOOMING outta this humble studio here. I’ve been playing this record loud enough that The Key Of Green should be able to hear it come drifting in through their windows well down south of where I am. Just trying to write about a song like “Box Spring” and everything I love about the impression it makes on us as listeners is like an experiment in my own muscle control; my brain is sending these hands of mine all over the keyboard just doing its level best to keep up with all I wanna say in praise of this start. So much of this song speaks for itself and straight away – the guitars are off-the-charts amazing, which, admittedly, in this band was somewhat to be expected – but listen to the rest as well here will ya? The fucking drums of “Box Spring” have enough energy to power an entire village, Charles is letting it completely rip with confidence from the mic and embracing the signature sound of his own uniqueness – and it makes a massive difference. He’s never held anything back in his solo tunes, or what he’s put into The Key Of Green to-date – but there’s still a noticeable difference between that, and going all-in like he clearly is from the very moment he grabs the mic on “Box Spring.” Listening to Evan’s masterful grip on the guitar and the solos this band puts into their music…the structure, the design, the absolute UNPREDICTABILITY of EVERYTHING you’ll hear and the immaculate amount of punch they’ve put into the power in their musicianship…I mean…as far as album-openers go, this should drop your fucking jaw. The creativity these two share between them creates music you simply have not ever heard before – & if you’re anything like I am, that should be the thing you crave most of all, because THAT is entirely rare. While they always retain an artistic aspect to their overall sound that’s still going to prove to take at least a moment or two to sink in with listeners out there as they try to wrap their minds around all this musical madness – songs like “Box Spring” don’t need any ONE hook if the whole thing is bulletproof. I’m a firm believer that effort such as this gets the recognition its due in time, whenever that may be – it might take people a bit to catch onto The Key Of Green, simply because they’re already that far ahead.
Good lordy! The amped-up crunch of their music is just beyond-words-amazing on this album. Listening to these guys come out to attack “I Am Not A Troll” is a serious treat, straight-up. If I had to hazard a guess and spin this hamster around on the wheel in my brain for a couple laps in an effort to figure this whole cuts theme & inspiration out…I’d probably go with something akin to the push/pull of how we interact with social-media & whatnot. That desire to scroll…but not scroll too much…that compulsion to post…but then not jump to respond when someone doesn’t like whatever we said…that NEED to act out when we’re poked in the eye by some motherfucker that’s sitting behind a keyboard even MORE miles off the coast of Dutch Harbor than you are, laughing about how they just ‘owned’ some dude across the internet they’ll never even meet…that…AHH FUCK IT, I AM KEYBOARDIAL VENGEANCE INCARNATE! “I Am Not A Troll” is likely very much based, at least in-part, around much of these types of feelings we have – it’s about exactly what the short sample at the very beginning of the song will explain to you, so pay close attention. It’s about trying to find a way to rebel against the instincts that tend to fire us up, and somehow NOT become the troll we all know we are inside somewhere. If you’ve ever battled that dude yourself…call it your Jiminy Cricket, your consciousness, your moral compass, or just your plain ol’ offensive party-mode that needs to be tempered with some greens but y’aint got none – you know it’s not always easy! And sometimes we lose. Sometimes we succumb to that troll. Sometimes, we ARE that troll. And there’s damn near nothing we can do about it – sometimes ya just gotta throw down. While this whole narrative I’ve assembled here is just a mere theory – the first video they’ve put out to support the new record for “I Am Not A Troll” seems to support what I’m saying here…I think. I’ll admit, I felt like I knew what the hell was going on for a moment or two, then for like, the first 2:15 of the video I found myself staring at the raddest & baddest hunk of LETTUCE I’ve ever seen just lying around entirely unexplained on a table before, and kinda got mesmerized by its whole saga and completely sidetracked in what I was writing about here. I dig the way they’ve got this cut set up to savage their way through the intensity of these verses and instrumental section with such enormous sound and catchy parts written into it, and I love the way they bounce from that into the serenity of the chorus. In the context of the theory I’m working with, the chorus plays like the brief moment in time where you’re able to convince yourself that you’re something you’re not, only to go raging right into that beast split-seconds later. “I Am Not A Troll” is pretty much the anthem for the mindset of the modern age if you ask me.
“Deep Space Deep State” is the third cut in a row on Precedence & The Silent Wheel that instantly pulls you in with exceptional sound in the musicianship beaming away, grabbing you within the first ten seconds before the vocals have even appeared yet. Here’s the thing folks…if you’re listening to the instrumentation that Evan and Charles have put into this record…like, if you’re dissecting these songs in your mind like I tend to as a reviewer – it’s genuinely mind-blowing; the effort in the writing is monumental. To the point where, it’s truly a head-scratcher that they could have accomplished THIS much within what’s been less than one full year since their last record – how is THIS even possible? And that’s where you really start to understand just how skilled these musical minds really are – this is the kind of album that SHOULD take YEARS to create, let alone less than 365 days of separated isolation. “It’s nucking futs” as a great scholar like Socrates must have maybe mighta sorta said in his prime. Sure – most songs have somewhat of a lead-in and an intro into’em, I get it, I get it – the best thing I can say is to LISTEN to The Key Of Green and understand what the difference really is for yourself by hearing it. Their music tells just as much of a detailed story through the instrumentation and expression they play with as the words & vocals will – and with both halves of these main elements displaying such consistent strength & balance, you can’t help but acknowledge there’s zero opportunity to get bored in listening to anything by The Key Of Green, ever. There’s not a single time I went through this album where the opening riff of “Deep Space Deep State” didn’t stand-out brilliantly – this tune definitely has one of my favorite beginnings on this album since hearing “Box Spring” and “I Am Not A Troll!” Okay, okay – yes – that’s all three on the record so far…but you’ll eventually hear this record for yourself and you’ll realize there’s no hyperbole here – The Key Of Green have put superhuman effort into the writing, into the execution, into the ideas themselves – and the harvest they’re reaping here in the results of what you’ll discover all throughout Precedence & The Silent Wheel is impossible to ignore. This hybrid blend of Indie/Alt/Progressive/Rock/Art-stuff they’re creating is a highlight example of authentic creativity at its maximum potential & fully-realized – and the way they’ve played with the contrast of the lyrics in their songs like “Deep Space Deep State” in tandem with the versatility of the loud/quiet dynamics of their music, is just straight up genius. I’d put it to ya another way if there was one to be had.
You FEEL this music – you couldn’t help it if you tried. LISTEN to the spectacular groove they lock into at the start of “Warren’s War” will ya? Well…brace yourselves…you’re about to go on one seriously adventurous & ambitious ride of a tune – this cut is nearly nine-minutes long, and uses its length extremely wisely. Heck – they even find their way into a Queen-esque moment of harmonies & brief moment of melodic peace in between the rampage of energy that fuels the bulk of this track at times! Listening to the savage tone of Evan’s guitar and how much of an impression it makes, or how stylistic & slick Charles sings his way through this song…these two are making moves that seriously stand-out for all the right reasons. Like…the MIX…strap your cans on and get in your headphones y’all – moments like around the 4:15 spot with the guitar just cannot be missed. I mean, deep down in my heart of hearts, I hope y’aint missin’ out on ANY of this – but moments like 4:15 and the solo around the 5:15 spot are well worth the price of admission on their own here. Precedence & The Silent Wheel is built on conceptual quality and smart societal observations in between the lines – “Warren’s War” is quite an achievement in itself in being a nearly nine-minute tune that never finds a solitary second to be bored with…but this entire record though, is so exceptionally performance-minded and impeccably executed – these two dudes deserve major credit for the way they’ve crafted this entire lineup of songs. “Warren’s War” speaks volumes on behalf of what they can accomplish with time at their disposal – perhaps it’s an example of going where the music took them, that I don’t know – all I can tell ya is you’ll more than want to ride along with’em to wherever this journey goes. And by the time you reach the final minute or two of “Warren’s War,” if The Key Of Green somehow hasn’t blown your mind already, believe me when I say, they’re about to – the finale of this cut is a highlight any set of ears would salute. From a playful & curious start, to the depths of drama & savage intensity – the confidence these two are executing with is fueled by the conviction of authentic ideas and true creativity others just don’t have; with great power comes great responsibility (quite likely Socrates too) – it’s inspiring to hear them use it. I simply cannot express enough just how much this nearly nine-minute cut will fly right by as quickly as it does – all I can do is assure ya that’s completely due to the facts – yes facts – that “Warren’s War” never stops being entertaining, never lets up on quality, and continuously lives up to its extremely ambitious design. Are you LISTENING with both ears folks? You can’t crush it any harder than these two have been throughout this record…to make songs as massive as this one, and to come out sounding this unified, tight, focused, and right in the moment…for the entire nearly nine minutes? Rare beyond words these two chaps are…everything they’ve put into this one massive song should completely convince ya.
Climbin’ on into the grimiest of the grimy – the dank atmosphere & eerie vibes of “Dirt Of Worms” will dig their way into ya with no problem whatsoever. There is…good gravyboat lighthouse…SO much goin’ on here that is working for me in these midnight sounds they’re rockin’ with here. Tonally, the guitars here are definitely a huge highlight for me…like, think back to the way the most savage moments of a record like OK Computer connected on that level and the interest those guitar-lines generated from song to song. “Dirt Of Worms” almost seems to not even acknowledge how cool this aspect of this song even IS! I mean, don’t get me wrong, we hear it, I’m commenting on it, so clearly we know what’s going on – but you’ll get what I’m saying when you listen…there’s a sly type of cool that’s happening here, and it just seems to come naturally to The Key Of Green. Listening to the way that Charles hits the heights of the intensity in the vocals just prior to the three-minute mark spot-on, and then how the song continues to drift into the murk even further from there…it’s just bloody brilliant folks. I know at this point, I likely sound like I’m stuck on repeat here – but this is truly the case; The Key Of Green spared no quarter in putting the maximum of their potential & skill into these tunes, and it absolutely shows in the results. Such smart use of pacing & space on “Dirt Of Worms,” such excellent selection of sound, such genuinely compelling ideas, thought-provoking words, and stunning harmonies & samples…this song…this album…it’s an entire smorgasbord of audible awesomeness engineered to fully entertain your ears and weave itself permanently into the fabric of your mind, and onto any available space upon your playlists. Another extremely awesome finale– the madness of “Dirt Of Worms” continues into an all-out frenzy of scattered, haunting sounds and stunning tones that’ll send the shivers down your spine & back again.
I think beyond perhaps all things that I love about this particular record, is that I rarely felt like there was a song that featured an element of particular strength, as opposed to how full, complete, and balanced these tunes are overall. Like – I’m ALWAYS going to make note of an incredible switch like you’ll hear around the forty-five second mark of “Scrape,” which is undoubtedly a massive highlight of true subtlety – but overall, every one of these songs will be remembered for its entirety, not just any one singular piece. If that doesn’t speak to the strength of the unity they share between them and just how locked into the vision & scope of what The Key Of Green is looking to accomplish, I honestly don’t know what would. You’ll hear these songs…tunes like “Scrape” and you’ll genuinely marvel at just how malleable, flexible, versatile, and adventurous this material really is…each of the cuts on Precedence & The Silent Wheel are monumental asks of the memory, nevermind the musicianship required to pull it all off! So while it’s still somewhat true that anything with a Progressive label that can be applied to it is always a bigger ask of the listening ears out there too – let us not forget that in order to challenge our ears & minds to begin with, someone out there has to make the mechanics of those wheels turn – and that the effort it truly takes to accomplish that through art & music is never any small kind of task. Part of me felt like “Scrape” for some reason might be the first track where the average everyday listener out there might actually suddenly realize they’ve been listening to progressive-based tunes both in style & subject – and who knows what they’ll do once they realize they’ve been digesting music with real substance! The Key Of Green continually sneaks up on ALL of us in that sense, don’t get me wrong – I felt like I couldn’t predict a single second of this album when it came right down to it – and that in itself should be its biggest selling point. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya from the get-go here, we should all be craving real uniqueness & creativity as they’re two of the rarest commodities to find in music and art – and these two champions in The Key Of Green are doling it out like they’ve got an endless well they can draw from. “Scrape” to me, was ultimately no less compelling, interesting, or well-executed than any of the others – it’s still 110% of a complete song; but there is something about it that seems like it’ll take a bit longer to catch on with the masses out there in comparison to the riotous set of five cuts that come beforehand. Yet…every single time the explosive energy in the main riff of “Scrape” roars up again, I’m convinced I’m entirely off the mark & everyone out there is gonna think I’m crazy for ever questioning Evan & Charles.
GET OUTTA HERE AND LEAVE SOMETHING FOR THE REST OF US WILL YA? Harmonic riff to start “Old Money Boy.” Pffff. Whatever. I could do that. I could totally do that. With like, five more lifetimes to practice…maybe. What a beginning! All jokes aside, that’s the kind of musicianship sleight of hand that gets noticed by those that know what it’s like to plug in and play – The Key Of Green lay out enormous chops throughout their musicianship on “Old Money Boy” and insert a few new tricks into the mix you have yet to experience on any other tune in that regard. They even bring in the FUNK for a moment! Its all-too-damn-brief appearance just past the three-minute mark is hardly the defining attribute to this song, but it is, again, another move that definitely gets noticed. That’s the beauty of the writing and the entire ambition of this album – no dead space here folks – versatility, transitions, change-ups, twists & turns – The Key Of Green be thy name – and with the execution of Precedence & The Silent Wheel being as consistent from start to finish, there’s no way they can’t be every bit as stoked about how this album came out as I am, or you’ll likely be. There is ALWAYS something happening, ALWAYS a new direction they seem to want to go down, and ALWAYS a brilliant selection of sound to fully dig on; from the music to the microphone, they’ve stocked every second with engaging entertainment that is just as likely to get you movin’ your body as it will assuredly move your mind. “Old Money Boy” starts out with a huge boom to the beat of the drums and a spectacular distance set between them & the guitars to create a separation in sound that makes an immediate impact & wild allure of its own. You wonder if The Key Of Green might take you into a western-themed sound…like we’re about to see two outlaws draw at high noon for a moment there…then “Old Money Boy” starts to really liven up quickly and shift into a totally different direction than you’d ever see coming, launching into the signature sound they create, of which can only be experienced & never fully described in words, no matter how damn hard I might try. How about this…they put in the “maximum…not minimum” at every opportunity; you’ll get it eventually.
Ending the latest record with one last massively ambitious cut, they climb up on “The Soapbox Of Men” for an eight-minute ride to finish Precedence & The Silent Wheel. Tons of social commentary you couldn’t possibly miss in this tune, much of which addresses many of those in power who are able to control the lives of so many with the stroke of a pen they simply take for granted. Charles lays a ton of insightful words up on ya here…not that he hasn’t along the way altogether, but you can really feel that added push to get this final message out there, almost like he’s yelling this out to the universe in hopes of hearing some kind of intelligent echo come back to him, rather than the vacant ignorance we so often experience here on earth in the faces he so expertly describes in “The Soapbox Of Men.” Of all its many impressive lines and parts to follow, it was usually the opening of this cut that felt like it hit me the hardest when it came to the meanings behind the lyricism…how Charles sees these faces, and how they could so easily be mistaken for his own, or yours, or mine – that’s the point, in many ways. While we might all do our best to establish our uniqueness and what makes us special…and while we might live a very GOOD life in doing so, all peaceful-like & whatnot, just going about our own business – some stupid jackass in a Viking hat all of a sudden goes and does something astoundingly incredulous, and any ‘good’ man worth his salt wants his entire gender to meet the pointy end of a very sharp stick for the display of ignorance that, by proxy, lumps us all onto “The Soapbox Of Men” whether we’d like to be there or not. Of course, this album was written & recorded long before the events of this past week – it’s not about the asshole in the Viking hat, so much as it’s about the fact that assholes in Viking hats have been around for as long as anyone can remember and having free run of the place. At least I think that’s what he’s getting at. Charles is a poetic dude and his thought-process moves a mile a minute in comparison to most you’ll encounter out there…it takes work to keep up to the guy, but I do swear I try my best. Smartly illustrating the distinguishing differences in the mindset & motives between genders, and what really creates the inequalities that still exist today in society by openly examining the destructive ways of man from the other point of view, or at the very least an empathic one that ‘gets it’ – if I’m following this whole story correctly, The Key Of Green is pretty much spelling out what’s fueling a lot of the gripping intensity and attitude that’s been surging throughout this set-list of songs. Frustration with those faces that look much like their own, yet seem to have a completely different set of wires programming their machines altogether behind the mask, with a very ugly agenda & view of the world. The Key Of Green takes a moment here at the end to call those fuckers out like they deserve to be, and in the process, confirm & remind us that, hey, we’re not all bad…not some of us. Some of you out there are just like Evan and Charles in The Key Of Green…you artists…visionaries…leaders…creators…unifiers…healers; you’ll hear a record like Precedence & The Silent Wheel and be inspired by absolutely everything you hear, knowing that what you’ve experienced is the difference genuine passion makes.
And rightly so – you put in the sincere effort, you get the results you earned. This record is fucking killer.
Find out more about The Key Of Green at their official page at Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/The-Key-of-Green-105994620996025
Listen to more music by The Key Of Green at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7rdHOgyodeuLmIU7eiWKCA
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