24 November 2015

I the Mighty - Connector

I the Mighty - what a band name!  This album was recommended to me a while ago and it has took this long to get to it, but such is the way of things.  This is the second album from the San Francisco, California natives who formed in 2007 and it follow their first album 'Satori' (although there seems to be a 2010 release called 'We Speak' which could have been an independent release).  They have shared the road with bands such as Enter Shikari, Coheed and Cambria, Dance Gavin Dance and Architects.  This album came out in June 2015 and one of my friends has been going on and on about it, so to shut him up I am reviewing this now.  So, let us see how mighty these guys actually sound.....

The opening track is called "An Epilogue as a Prologue" which build upon some light strumming of the guitar, as the band comes in and gets louder and louder, building the song to a crescendo.  As an introduction to the album, it certainly has my interest; it could have really been extended to a full song as well, but it serves its purpose well in this form.  The second track is called "Lady of Death" and I can see why they are down as progressive rock and post hardcore - there is also a dose of emotional punk in this music as well.  The drummer is insane on this song, I have not heard a performance like that outside of Mike Portnoy and Danny Carey, the bass and guitars are also pulling various shapes and riff that take it above the punk sound and create something new.  It is a strange beast, but not one that is not welcome.  "The Lying Eyes of Miss Erray" follows on from "Lady of Death" and this tale of romantic entanglement is another complex number that centres on some progressive guitar tones, focused bass and off the wall drumming.  It has more hardcore to it than progressive rock if I am honest and it still sounds solid to these ears. "Psychomachia" is the next song and there is a sense of drama in the air with this number, even more so than any other number on the album.  It slows down the pace of the album and the band are forging a song here in a style that reminds me of Brand New, with a pretty mixed result.  It is well played and the production job is good, but it is not keep my interest whilst it is on or making me itch to repeat it. 

"Adrift" is a hardcore number that starts off with a huge dose of aggression compare to its earlier compatriots on the album, it brings a huge injection of energy to the album that was needed from the beginning of the song, towards the end it tails off a little but it does not have detrimental effect on the record at this point.  In fact it is better they did that instead of adding a song that would have been totally out of character with the rest of the album.  After this is "Slow Dancing Forever" which is a keyboard/guitar effect song that sounds a bit like Owl City and the latest Fall out Boy album.  It feels like an interlude track for the album and is the opposite twin to "Adrift" with an emotional tale about a relationship hitting the rock (and a plane crash as well by the sounds of it).  It is a different take on this band’s sound from this album so far, it is also not awful nor is it great either - it is just alright and nothing more than that.  "Friends" features the talents of Max Bemis who is from the group Say Anything, it starts with an electronic drum pattern and goes into another emotional punk/post hardcore number that sounds well played and full of such energy and style that I can see a lot of the influences that went into this song (Brand New, Jonah Matranga) and it is one of the best tracks from this collection.  It is not the most amazing song I have heard recently, but that is not the point of it; it is just a good song that you want to listen to when the mood takes you - file under grower.  "Playing Catch with .22" is the eighth song on this album and at this point I think the album has settled into its pattern - guitar effect intro, reflective lyrics, post-hardcore eruption, massive drumming and a sing-along chorus that would have been top of the charts when Finch/Alexisonfire were riding the charts.  I like the mixture of styles going on in places here, it has a bit of everything that band have played so far on this song and on reflection is one of the stand out track of the record.

"Andrew's Song" follows on with a huge dose of the emotive side of the band, coming out of electronic interference you have a story which is open to interpretation from the listener.  It goes for the heart from the beginning of the song, the story is matched by a brilliant piece of music that showcases how well this band can play at times.  Out of radio static comes "The Hound and The Fox" which has one of the heaviest acoustic guitar playing I have heard outside of Tenacious D, it bounces along at such a fast pace that drags you in its wake.  A song about the evil of people in plain sight, you are invited to think about the people who are lacking morals.  Corruption is the story behind this song and it is a noble sentiment.  The music is alright, but it is not filling me with an excitement to be honest.  Penultimate track "(No) Faith in Fate" is another song in that does not really connect with me;  let me be honest here and say that it is a decent pop song that is buried in this album - it has some hardcore moves mixed in there as well, but this is a pop song first and for most.  It is not bad by any really measuring stick, the band play well on this number as they have on the rest of this album, yet I cannot connect with it on any level.  Ending the album is "The Frame I: Betrayal in the Watchtower" and this is the best song on this album by a country mile and then some, musically it has is a mixture of the prog/hardcore/emotive punk elements of this band with some beautiful story telling.  You have a brilliant vocal harmony towards the end, an aggressively strong riff that powers the song and a tune which is both new and familiar at the same time - a great way to end this album.

This album is well performed and for what it is, it is played very well and with a determined passion that is a key requirement for the type of music.  There is something admirable about this band and their sound, they are not afraid to mix things around and that drummer is absolutely on fire (he gets this album two extra marks for those alone).  But as much as I admire the band for what they have achieved here, I am not in love with it myself.  Somehow I could not connect with it in a way that I was hoping to; I like it and applaud the band for bring something different to the post-hardcore scene and I hope they continue down this path, but it is just a good album instead of a great album.  However, you might like this album in a way that I do not, so I feel that this band are definitely worth checking out and one for the future hopefully - still love that name though.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - The Frame I: Betrayal in the Watchtower

You can purchase Connector on Amazon here

You can visit the I the Mighty website here

You can follow the activities of I the Mighty on Facebook here

You can stream Connector on Spotify here

At the time of writing, this album is not on Tidal or Deezer - if this changes, I will update this page

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