The Cast Before The Break – As Your Shoulders Turn On You
1. Onward Love
2. From The Earth At A Crossroad
4. Understanding The Universe
5. Cerca Trova
6. Relying On A Respirator
“I’m terrified of who I am inside. I’m a broken matchstick man, be my conduit.”
What if Thursday and Moving Mountains had a baby? The Cast Before The Break is the exact and only answer to that question. Released in March, I actually just discovered the band and their EP As Your Shoulders Turn On You after scouring through Absolutepunk.net’s “Absolute 100″ feature. So why am I even reviewing it, you ask?
Well, because this album is special. This is that rare album that comes out once a year – maybe. As Your Shoulders Turn On You is this years Pneuma.
The album starts with “Onward, Love,” a six minute mostly instrumental track that sets the tone for the rest of the album – moody, atmospheric, but yet carrying an overarching epic feel to each movement in the song. Lyrically explaining that we are our own instruments to destruction, the song leads into “From The Earth, At A Crossroad,” arguably the most accessible song on the album. A pacing beat around a floor-tom and snare behind a simple bass line carries a ridiculous amount of intensity up to each chorus, then back to the same beat up until the ending, which brings the ceiling of the song down on you with crashing guitars and vocals demanding that “If Jesus taught you everything, then nothing is what you’ve learned.” But, the song is actually about a car accident and everything that surrounds it. I know, tons of songs about accidents, right? Here’s what I kept from you: this album is about the narrators last half hour of life as it is played out through the EP. Self discovery, loneliness, and revenge are all explored in many different ways, from the mostly acoustic “Relying On A Respirator” to the beautiful “Understanding The Universe.”
So what makes this album so special besides that it is a genius idea for a concept album? Well, for starters, Geoff Rickley is pretty much fronting this band. TJ Foster, the vocalist, nails his Geoff impression throughout the album. I am not kidding when I say that I imagine Geoff singing some of these songs when I am listening. From the strained vocals to the unmeasurable passion, the vocals really shine throughout the EP.
However, there is no better way to say it: this album is strong because the songs are just really well written. Every song is epic. Every song goes from tons of instruments to just a basic piano and percussion arrangement, and yet, nothing feels left behind. The energy is retained. The EP carries absolutely no filler within itself, and everything that happens in each song is there for a reason. Nothing feels forced. Nothing feels misplaced. The flow of the sounds is quite simply breathtaking. This is an EP that needs to be listened from the beginning to the end, not from the middle.
“As Your Shoulders Turn On You” will be a contender for one of the top albums of 2008 and may possibly take the crown. There simply is no better way to say it. Whether its the hard hitting ending of “Cerca Trova” or the trick ending to “Understanding The Universe,” The Cast Before The Break keeps raising the bar song after song during your first listen. Very few albums have left me so impressed on the first listen – to name a few, Vheissu, Pneuma, and Transatlanticism were albums that left me with similar impressions. Big things are going to happen to this band. Just wait and watch.
RIYL: Moving Mountains, Thursday, Moving Mountains, Thursday, Moving Mountains, Thursday