Spiral and Trap / Eternal Blue
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Members of Continue the Story, with a new talent on bass, have broken off and churned out a six-song EP that’s a perfect fit for the time of year when the temperature recedes and things gather a melancholy tinge. Described as post-hardcore, the album features distortion only about half the time. Most of the tracks start out with clean, picked guitar notes or shimmering chords before they inevitably transform into the grittier genres of grunge or alternative. A noted influence of American Football comes through in these softer sections, and a certain Title Fight reference has to be made with a band like this. The pushed vocals (not screaming and almost yelling) let that band come into contact with this band’s style on the album.
The EP starts off with a Brand New-esque clean, reverb-laden guitar line which is quickly joined by drumsticks clicking on the edge of the snare. Though the vocals are pushed from the start, the characteristic distortion of a hardcore band (though again these guys are self-proclaimed as post-hardcore) doesn’t kick in until halfway through the second song.
This second song, “The Mara,” lays way to Noah Mitchell’s softer vocals until we indeed get that burst of grit and machine-gun drumming from drummer Zach Bauman that could put this song right at home in 2005 without missing a beat. There aren’t any pushed vocals in this second track, but the filled-out sound, thanks to local newcomer Steven Putt on bass, helps to pick up the slack, not that anything’s missing in the first place.
Track three, “A Year in Barabol,” starts much like the first track (“Wood Witch”) but after the first verse the grunge kicks in and a fairly catchy verse follows it up. Towards the end Spiral and Trap get into a breakdown feature that uses the same lines to repeat and build: “My past is creeping up behind me / all those years in the dark. / I seem to need an explanation for the way things are again.”
The first two times the words are sung; on the the third time Mitchell gives them a push while Bauman and Putt keep the rhythm the same. The fourth time lends itself to that Title Fight feel and really drives the feeling of these lyrics home with plenty of emotion and self-reflection.
“Insomnia” gives us the by-now familiar clean guitar riff with bends and slides delicately filling the sound space and wouldn’t be an outlier in a post-rock song from This Will Destroy You or Explosions in the Sky at their more delicate moments. As the song builds, the tempo stays slower, but the intensity builds until the rhythmic beginning of “Post War” brings us into Mitchell’s feistier riffage (instead of the clean licks we’ve heard thus far). You’ll most likely get steady singing from Mitchell, but the few times he belts out “I feel like I lost you” really keep this song catchy, and you can’t help but hold the notes out with him.
The album ends with the short title song that is mostly rhythmic until it’s not; it slows way down in the middle and becomes delicate and beautiful, making the listener yearn for more parts like these. Then the drive pedal is stomped and Mitchell’s belting out the same line on repeat, but this time at the top of his lungs giving a powerful end to the six-song album recorded, mixed and mastered by Caleb Lewis.
Eternal Blue shows pseudo-mature songwriting, especially as far as style goes, despite being the band’s first release. At the rate Spiral and Trap are cranking out hearts on sleeves, this beginning chapter is sure to give way to plenty of worthwhile output in the future, probably sooner rather than later.