Thursday, March 30, 2017

Album Review: 1476 - Our Season Draws Near

I've broached the subject before, but let me start this conversation by reiterating the fact that I believe when we hear music makes a difference to how we hear it. Certain albums and certain sounds more closely align with a particular time, and I feel it would behoove artists to keep that in mind, as best they can, when releasing music. I say that because of this album, which 1476 describes as "winter-themed". If that is the case, why is it being released at the end of March, in what is neither practically or technically winter? Even before hitting the play button, I'm perplexed that they would be releasing a record about a specific season right at the time when I'm trying my hardest to move on to the next one. It almost comes across like a network accidentally running a Christmas movie in February.

But let's for the time being move on to the music itself. We start things off with "Our Silver Age", which opens with a single acoustic guitar underpinning vocals that are sung so quietly and sloppily that I can barely make them out. I know there is an indie-rock aesthetic where being lazy in your playing is 'hip', but it sounds awful there, and it sounds awful here too. I can't really tell you what the song is like, because it buries the important parts with lackluster performances, until the instrumental back-half of the song pulls a heavy "The Drapery Falls" vibe. That part is good, but it's a segue, not a song.

We move on to black metal guitars for "Ettins", thankfully without the wretched shrieking that makes that genre intolerable. But like the black metal it's derived from, the vocals do neglect to throw anything melodic on the table, which makes the song as tepid and boring as you would expect tame black metal to be.

As I remember, the previous exposure I had to the band was not like this. The elements were all the same, but their songwriting at least attempted to write songs that could be memorable. They didn't succeed at nearly the rate they needed to, but it was a far better option than what they're serving us here.

Forming a band is easy. Making a record is easy too. The hardest thing in music is writing songs. Not just pieces of music that fill the running time, but real songs that have emotions or melodies listeners can latch on to. That is where 1476 falls on their faces, as many bands tend to. They're able to write music, but not songs. There just aren't moments here that anyone is going to remember. The vocals are largely to blame, with the flat and boring delivery, but the writing itself isn't strong enough that even a good performance would have improved this album much. Like winter, the lasting impact is more about being beaten down than anything.

Which brings me back to the beginning; if "Our Season Draws Near" is a winter album, it needs to be heard in winter. At a time when I'm thinking about the coming of spring, the brightening of the sky, and the warming of the air, the last thing I want to do is go back and listen to an album that says, "hey, wasn't it cool when you were freezing and shoveling snow?!" No.

Maybe "Our Season Draws Near" would be a decent album if that season was in fact drawing near, but I doubt it. It's not good now, and I can't imagine it being any better at another time.

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