Album: The Place I Feel Safest
There’s a sense of security, safety and soundness that differentiates a house from where you feel truly at home. While any place you spend a prolonged period of time can be a house—an apartment across the country, a dorm room at college, anything like that—they lack the warmth and fondness that is implied with calling somewhere home.
But what happens when home becomes nowhere? Where do you go—what becomes the place you feel safest?
This churning amalgamation of energy, emotion, anxiety and aggression defines the SharpTone Records debut full-length record by Connecticut crushers, Currents. The Place I Feel Safest wanders across a soundscape that contains elements of bone-busting brutality, rampaging grooves and catchy, enormous choruses lined by scathing and shreddy solos—wandering to find a place that truly feels like home. Far from a conventional “djent” band, yet not so simple to be categorized as dully as “metalcore,” Currents’ 2017 full-length release wanders hither and to in order to find its category, but instead finds itself as one of the year’s best albums yet—regardless of genre, sound or style.
The Place I Feel Safest is a musical melting pot of countless styles sprawling from crushing to catchy—sinister to symphonic—all without sounding contrived or boring at any point. From the first haunting notes of “Apnea,” guitarist and songwriter Chris Wiseman—as well as fellow riffsmith Ryan Castaldi—unleash hell on the listener. With solos that draw from traditional and technical metallic styles, Wiseman and Castaldi’s creative fretwork and fleet fingers are almost too fast to follow (but you can bet that the listener will love every breakneck second trying to keep up). This is especially true during “Apnea,” as well as the anthemic closing number “Shattered” and the heartfelt but hectic “Best Memory.” Wiseman and Castaldi craft a nearly-hour long album without a second filler; this is as true of the moments of furiously fretted technicality as it is of the segments of surreal groove, largely made possible by the immaculate percussion from Jeff Brown and Dee Cronkite’s grisly and gritty bass. Together, Brown and Cronkite hold down a devastating low end that dominated on “Night Terrors” and “Withered,” while also creating moments of malicious heaviness during “Silence,” and the immensely diverse titular track. Brown’s ability to sneak flashy and explosive fills into just about every pattern is simply dazzling, with songs like “Delusion” seeing some of his best drumming yet—although, honestly, that can be said in truth for just about every song on The Place I Feel Safest. Meanwhile, Cronkite’s bass ensures that even the most quick and pummeling grooves still hit like Mike Tyson—even if they dart here-to-fro like Muhammad Ali. Together, be it at the tips of Wiseman’s fingers or in Brown’s bustling feet, Currents are an instrumental juggernaut that simply cannot be stopped.
If you go by a simple and superficial description of Currents’ creative and crushing instrumentation, you end up missing out on a crucial aspect of the band’s incredible sound—a big part (but far from the only part) of what differentiates them from countless other talented djent-but-heavier bands. Frontman Brian Wille—new to Currents since their last album—brings emotional intensity and incredible dynamism to The Place I Feel Safest. While every song is an incredible example of Wille’s range and diversity; especially the aggressive “Apnea” and moving “Shattered,” “Dreamer” and “The Place I Feel Safest” are simply the best amalgam of his lyrical prowess and vocal ability. Truthfully, the first time hearing The Place I Feel Safest’s title track, I was nearly brought to tears—and “Dreamer” wasn’t far behind. On these tracks especially, Wille shares the deepest parts of his soul and spirit with the listener, nothing more and certainly nothing less. This is not, however, to cast asunder Wille’s efforts throughout the remainder album—because when I said there wasn’t a second of filler throughout this entire hour-long release, I wasn’t only talking about the group’s instrumentation.
Unbearably heavy at points, yet melodic and moving at others—all while still bringing boatloads of progressively tinted technicality to the table, it seems safe to say that there is no album like Currents’ The Place I Feel Safest that has emerged so far this year, or in recent memory. With noodling, absurd riffs and solos vaguely similar to early Within the Ruins, yet grooves that make artists like Structures or Veil of Maya look like amateurs, Currents put the rest of their discography—and their peers to boot—to shame. With the gritty and raw lyrical content of “Another Life” and its stories of addiction and abuse, or the heart-rending power in “The Place I Feel Safest,” and the sneak-attack brutality of “Best Memories,” there is something for everyone to find themselves lost in when it comes to Currents’ latest—and year-defining—release.
For Fans Of: Within the Ruins, Structures, Veil of Maya, Make Them Suffer
By: Connor Welsh