You find yourself in the dark. You’re alone, desperate and looking for some source of light. Suddenly, you hear a symphony begin to play foreboding music. As the music crescendos, you begin to see a small glimmer of light and you run for it. Will you make it there? Can you save yourself from this eternal darkness or will you be forever trapped in the black? The answer is up to you… but this is Desolation, In Wake. Music, so often, is used as a coping mechanism and, as such, is used to spread a message of hope, self-awareness and promote a positive outlook in life. For Cathedral Hills, their message consists of a tell-all, deep look into the struggles that come with substance abuse, alcoholism, loss of loved ones and more. Desolation, In Wake is the band’s sophomore EP but, in many ways, it can be looked upon as their debut. Let’s discuss that, first, before we delve into the music itself.
Desolation, In Wake is the first release to feature their newly-solidified line-up of Jay Chavez (Vocals), Aaron Yamamoto-Potts (Bass/Vocals) and Cole McKenzie (Guitar). Their debut EP, Munen, featured an entirely different line-up and a product that, while proud of it, didn’t really live up to the expectations that they’d set for it. Going forward with the lessons and hardships they’d endured with the release of that album, they had a much clearer picture of the direction they wanted to go with their new music. Armed with that knowledge, they were able to explore new facets of their talents and hired a professional producer to ensure that the end result was exactly what they dreamed it to be. The result? Seven tracks that aim to bring out emotional extremes in the listener, and seek to spread a message that you are not alone.
Circling back to the first few sentences of this review, we’re lead to the intro/title track. This symphonic epic sets the stage for just how much things have changed within the band. In fact, these new, symphonic elements will play a great part in the rest of the EP. “Renunciation” sees the main intro section speed up, adding in the band and explodes with vocalist Jay Chavez’s commanding higher-range screams. The personal nature of the lyrics, discussed earlier, comes into play immediately as the first thing you hear is “just one more time and I swear I’ll be fine! Just one more drink and I promise I’ll move on with my life!” As someone who has seen many of his friends/family struggle with substance abuse and alcoholism… this track hits me hard. In fact, it’s very unlikely that there’s a single person out there who can’t relate to this track on some level.
One of my favorite tracks on the album, personally, is titled “Reclamation.” Not only does this track display their individual talents, but they’re joined by a good friend of ours, JT Tollas of Famous Last Words. Here, we get a better sense of what kind of range that Chavez possesses. In addition to that, JT’s part isn’t your typical guest spot, where he’s given a small part to “shine” toward the end of the track. He actually comes in towards the middle of the track, almost faded into the distance, and still finds a way to capture the listener’s attention. If you’re a fan of JT’s vocals, your ears will perk up immediately when you hear it. Beyond that, there’s a spoken word part that really gets the blood pumping before the guitars proceed to fade off and close out the track.
Overall, this is a must-hear EP. I could sit here and talk about each track, in vivid detail but I feel that it would be done better justice by just taking the 23-24 minutes it takes to listen to this masterpiece, in full. Coming back, full swing from their disappointment in their debut… I feel like this could be looked upon as their TRUE debut. A true affirmation of their talents, their dedication and the passion that they possess within each and every note, beat and lyric. An emotional roller-coaster, that keeps you guessing from beginning to end. If you thought you knew Cathedral Hills, or are just being introduced by this review… you’re in for a treat. Keep your eyes on them, as this is only the beginning and they’ve got nowhere to go but up! You can pick up Desolation, In Wake on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play or physically through the band’s webstore (links below) but do yourselves a favor.. and check it out! They’ll be releasing a new music video on July 27th, so keep your eyes peeled for that and check out the teaser below!