Album: No More Heroes (EP)
Every day, you wake up–maybe with the help of an alarm, maybe with the help of caffeine, but if you’re reading this, you wake up. The following 14 to 16 hours is a culmination of a whole variety of environmental stresses which cause your body to shift and adapt in different ways–whether you’re aware of them or not. This is one part of the physiological principle known as homeostasis, or, a state of dynamic flux and precise balance your body must undergo to keep you alive. Homeostasis is just one example of balance which works its way into the higher echelons of mother nature’s hierarchy. Another example is No More Heroes, an EP released by Floridian metalcore up-and-comers Ciridian. Filled with brooding, dissonance alongside ethereal, abundant atmosphere, Ciridian make a stunning use of the tried-and-true heavy-soft dynamic to create a solid, catchy and engaging EP, which, what it might lack in originality, it makes up for in emotion and ability.
No More Heroes’ tone is largely developed and determined by a combination of a strong instrumental pushing force and a fierce tugging from the vocal element. Instrumentally, No More Heroes is at the top of it’s game, and uses pounding, booming percussion and violently low bass riffs to create an unfathomably heavy environment which builds up all the potential needed to crush the listener into dust. This potential energy is rapidly and suddenly converted into a violent, kinetic display of force when the guitars and vocals step into stride with the drums and the bass, creating a maelstrom which absolutely devastates the listener’s ears. The climactic, start-stop stuttering breakdown in “Sleeper Cell,” as well as the endless amounts of crushing dissonance in the latter half of “Praying Mantia” are excellent examples. However, the downtuned and ear-splitting strife doesn’t end with chug-driven breakdowns: “Sleeper Cell” features a contagiously catchy, southern-influenced groove which, while grimy and gritty, will get stuck in the listener’s head for days.
As a perfect contrast to Ciridian’s penchant for the crunchy, spine-tingly heavy elements which No More Heroes wears on its sleeve, there are also abundant elements of post-hardcore styled melody and atmosphere. “The 2nd 21st” is one track which utilizes this element brilliantly–although, every song on this short-but-sweet EP makes use of a similar dynamic. Just when wave after wave of pounding, relentless darkness seems as if it will cripple the listener, casting them into a state of forsaken abandon, there is light. Crisp, catchy clean vocals and stunning guitar harmonization kick in and serve as the listener’s figurative salvation, casting rays of pure, white light into the darkness, forcing it back. Splashy, airy cymbals ring amidst ethereal, serene riffs and chords, while crooned or belted clean vocals drench the listener in soulful, heart-rending lyrics. “Dreamer’s Disease” does this brilliantly, as the lyrics inspire the listener with nothing but the purest and most heart-felt hope. These sudden changes in tone can be practically–and blissfully–unexpected, allowing the listener to revel not just in shock, but also awe. A majority of the time, these elements are just as expertly done as they are unexpected.
Ah, but herein lies the error in homeostasis. Like all things provided by nature, there is no true perfection. Even the most tightly controlled regulations and efforts can be cast asunder by being monitored too closely or let roam too freely. Such is the case with some of Ciridian’s more mellow and “soft” aspects of their dynamic–the culprit in these cases being the nature of the clean vocals. While the lyrics are always spot-on and brilliant, often times, the tone employed by the clean vocalist is either too sharp and obtrusive, or too mundane and dwells too far in the background. For the most part, it is corrected by the otherwise impeccable instrumentation or marvelous support provided by the harsh vocals, but when it falls short, it falls short by a notable margin. “Dreamer’s Disease” is an example of this—where the lyrics are stunning, the sharp nature of the vocals simply doesn’t fit. However, there is a corollary: Times like the usage of the clean vocals and crooned singing on “The 2nd 21st” are spot on and perfect for their entirety, forcing the listener to wonder why weren’t all the choruses like this?
Balance is associated with a tedious stigma for a reason–no one wants to fall, especially when important things are on the line. In this regard, Ciridian have certainly not fallen, and are definitely a far cry from failure, as, largely, No More Heroes is a resounding success of an EP which is equal parts catchy, heavy, immersive and ethereal. However, just because the band have passed the tightrope challenge doesn’t necessarily mean they passed it with grace–as the hiccups witnessed on the release are sure to be seen from onlookers in the audience.
For Fans Of: Nevea Tears, It Lives, It Breathes, The Color Morale, Close Your Eyes
By: Connor Welsh