There are times where, as a music journalist, you hear something and you’re immediately captivated by it. For me, as a big fan of the early to mid 00s wave of metalcore & post-hardore, that nostalgia factor plays a big role in that for me. The first band in my writing career to capture that essence for me, was A Tragic Setback and their debut album, Chasing the Light. Now, I’ve found another band who made me a fan, not only by their music but by their attention to detail, their interactions with their fans and their overall demeanor. That band, hailing from Fredericksburg, VA, is Varia. Their debut EP, In Time We All Unravel, is a work of art in so many ways. We’ll start with the beautiful, vibrant and eye-popping artwork, created by Eric Griffin (Eric Griffin Design.) It depicts what seems to be a ripple in time, slowly causing a lone flower to wilt. This is a metaphor for the concept that this album captures… life is short. The colors aren’t too overbearing and are done in such a way that you’re immediately drawn to the flower in the middle, atop a mound of earth.
The production on this EP, done by Jeff Mckinnon (Think Loud Studios), is top notch. These guys had a clear vision of what they wanted to sound like and the match was clearly one made in Heaven. Vocalists Patrick Ryan (lead) and Chris Maconaughey (guitar/vocals) create a perfect and harmonious balance between a gritty, heavy and aggressive tone and soaring, catchy vocal melodies. Clearly influenced by bands like August Burns Red, The Color Morale, etc… the guitar parts (by Maconaughey and Jacob Kent) are what create a lot of the nostalgia factor. Clean guitar melodies, coupled with fast, punchy riffs that will make you want to mosh, as well as, air guitar. The low-end, brought in by bassist Cody Howard, is crisp, clear and provides a nice, strong foundation for some of the best melodic post-hardcore I’ve heard in years. One of the most impressive things about the band, though, is the range of screams we hear, in just a 5-song EP (6, including an interlude.) It’s clear that you’re hearing a well-versed, disciplined and practiced vocalist in that regard. On top of it all, drummer Sebastian Trudeau is just a monster behind the kit. Based on what we hear on this EP, alone, he’s one of the most talented unsigned drummers I’ve ever come across.
In Time We All Unravel is filled with twists and turns, from the opening melody that fades in, to some piano parts thrown in for added emotional depth and much more. Just when you think that you’ve figured out the structure of these songs, they hit you with something completely unexpected. A melodic section, could be followed by pseudo-rap screams (“Don’t Let Me Go”), for instance. This album is filled with lyrics that express a person who is troubled, desperate and feels unable to go on. In that way, it will find a way to connect to the listener to let them know that it’s okay not to be okay. The message that is being spread with these songs, is one of hope and positivity, through negative connotations and experiences. These guys are wearing their hearts on their sleeves, in music form, and want the world to embrace the message they’re sending.
It’s not often that I find a band that, not only, connects with me on a personal level but finds a way to keep my attention multiple listens in. The level of professionalism and the delivery of these tracks is what will keep this at the top of my favorite releases of 2018, so far. Please, if you don’t listen to anything else that I’ve said this year… dive into this EP. You won’t regret it! In Time We All Unravel was self-released on August 10th and can be found on all digital retailers, via the link below, with physical copies and merch coming soon! Keep an eye on these guys because they’re destined for big things!