Saturday, December 24, 2011

Album Review: Structures - Divided By

While listening to Structures’ debut LP Divided By, I was reminded of a review of Super 8 by Internet film critic The Nostalgia Chick. She didn’t like the film very much, and as she and her friend were leaving the theatre, he asked her, “What do you like? Do you like anything?” Her reply: “I don’t get paid to like shit! I get paid to bitch about shit, that’s what I’m doing.”

That’s a more extreme version of my philosophy on reviewing. After all, I am a professional (albeit in the sense that other people pay me to write these things). I don’t necessarily bitch for bitching’s sake, but when I’m listening to an album I try to remain as detached from the material as possible, to determine whether or not it’s good, bad, or ugly based on its own merits. 

Not so with this one. Because as much as I tried to distance myself from the hype – both leading up to and continuing after its release – it’s everything I want in a Canadian progressive hardcore outfit’s debut LP and more. 
It’s got plenty of time signature switches, infectious djent grooves, and enough breakdowns and blast beats to keep me warm at night. It runs the gamut from crushingly heavy to soaringly melodic, often in the span of the same song. It’s got tight production from the Machine Shop’s Will Putney, it’s fast (at a mere 32-minute running time), and, most importantly, it’s fun.

Serious fun. While some young bands struggle with the balance between technical proficiency, production values, and, well, enjoying themselves, these five kids from Toronto – “kids” is not a misnomer, as they’re all, according to their Facebook page, between nineteen and twenty years old – have it all figured out. 

Musically, everything is in top gear here, from Spyros Georgiou and Brendon Padjasek’s shredding guitar work to Andrew McEnaney’s bull-in-a-china-shop drumming. These guys are great at what they do, but they’re not bogged down by taking that too seriously. For every impeccably timed riff, there’s a rousing set of gang vocals to go with it. (“Our lives are nothing but a means to an end!” goes the first line of “Encounters,” which is easily in my personal top three.)

It’s difficult enough to find the right words when I don’t like something, but when I enjoy a record as much as I enjoyed this one, I’ve found it’s even harder to remain neutral. My one hope for Structures, in what will surely be a long and productive run for them, is that they don’t lose sight of the energy and spirit that makes this debut so damn good. While “spirit” may not be the right word, on multiple listens, it’s always the first one that comes to mind.

SCORE: 9.5/10

Review by: Julia Celtnieks

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