“Autopilot Disengaged” – 4:12
“Warm” – 3:19
“The Company You Keep” – 4:30
“Don’t Take My Soul” – 3:48
“Unstable” – 3:45
“The Brightest Darkness” – 3:50
Total Runtime: 23:22
Artist: Actions Speak Louder
Conceptual releases are something that have always fascinated me. As someone who loves to read and, moreover, dive into lyrical content… these have become some of my favorite works of art over the years. Not only do you get an enjoyable soundscape, you get a story that’s been carefully woven into it all. FL’s Actions Speak Louder has prided themselves, from the beginning, on creating a concept that speaks, urgently, to some of the most difficult problems that we, as a society, are plagued with. Vocalist and primary lyricist, Byron Peck, has bravely let the public into his struggles with his many demons, opening up a way for fans to connect with him, on a personal level. The music, primarily post-hardcore, is crafted so that the atmosphere surrounding it, speaks to the subjects at hand. With two EPs under their belts, they are finally ready to wrap up the concept that they began with 2014’s Self-Discovery. On November 30th via Zero Limits Records, they will release Self-Sacrifice, the third and final installment in their trilogy.
Ultimately, they seek nothing more than to be a light in the darkness. Whether it be contributing to their local scene, creating a positive impact in their community (or the world) or just giving a voice to the voiceless. While much heavier, both in subject nature and the musical sense, Self-Sacrifice shows ASL at their best. Not only have they expanded upon what has become their signature sound but they’ve found a way to experiment and not fall into trends. Upon hearing the opening, spoken-word introduction by Peck, you’ll feel yourself immediately pulled in. The emotion that is conveyed, wholeheartedly, through each and every lyric is second to none. Especially when it comes to tracks like “Don’t Take My Soul,” which clearly has a deep-seeded meaning. Speculation suggests that this track deals with loss, either physically or just drifting apart from someone that was incredibly close.
One of my favorite tracks on this EP is “Warm,” because it sounds so different from anything else they’ve done, yet is clearly 100% ASL and no one else. The chorus, especially, which has been stuck in my head from the first listen, when it was still just a demo. “Unstable” is another one, which actually has a music video releasing soon, that resonates with me because it, unequivocally, shows all of the members’ individual strengths, at their best. Musically, it sounds like it could have been influenced by earlier work from Architects (a-la Hollow Crown or Daybreaker). This track, while leaning more towards metalcore, will definitely be a fan-favorite.
The album closes out with “The Brightest Darkness,” which is much more melodic but clearly fits in as a closer. This track keeps the momentum of its predecessors but has a subtle build-up before exploding, before the second chorus comes in. The bridge, though, might be my favorite that these guys have created. Peck sings soft and subtly, as a piano-driven “interlude” of sorts plays in the background. Meanwhile, the drums are heavy, driving and bombastic before the final chorus rings out.
Self-Sacrifice is the ultimate testament to what can happen when a band stays true to their convictions, their nature as individuals and hone their talents to a fine point. Never have they sounded better, more in-tune with one another. While this is the final chapter in this trilogy, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for ASL. In fact, quite the contrary! The band have already begun work on their next release, so you can expect much more from them in 2019 and beyond. For now, do yourselves a favor and pick up Self-Sacrifice on November 30th and tell us what you think! I guarantee it’s going to sit high on a lot of year end lists!