Release DetailsLABEL Dreamscape Records
RELEASED ON 10/31/2006
Down The Beaten Path
posted on 11/2006 By:
Apparently none the discouraged by my lukewarm review of their EP In Search of a Neverending Hope, this foursome from Alabama trudges onward with their debut full-length, Down the Beaten Path.
The formula remains relatively unchanged for Sciatica. They play a weird amalgamation of breakdown-heavy sludge with, wouldn’t you know it, death vocals from the male and clean vocals from the lone female member. You know, for once, it would be nice to hear the harsh vocals from a woman and the clean vocals from a man, but we haven’t quite reached that point in sexual evolution, I suppose. That said, both Mike and Christine Hate do an admirable job with their respective roles, neither sounding completely original but conveying enough passion to make the intended mood of the music believable.
Problem is, most of Down the Beaten Path is middle of the road. Nothing quite sinks in as it should. Songs like “Sex Me Up” should be catchy but the chorus doesn’t stick and the riffs tease rather than capture an audience. The quieter moments are where Sciatica excels. 3:40 into “Sex Me Up,” Christine Hate’s humming leads the band into a slower passage where some rather impressive soloing takes place. They seem to need that change of pace to focus more closely on the development of the song, but before long they come back to that tepid driving riff. ZZZZZ…
One noticeable improvement is how polished Sciatica sounds in comparison to their previous release. They reworked and rerecorded “Tonight We Rise” and “Come With Me” from In Search of a Neverending Hope with astounding success. There is a greater energy present on these reworked recordings. Where they meandered in the past they now cut to the chase. Some of the vocal work is a hell of a lot sharper, too. The harsh vocals on the original version of “Tonight We Rise” were a lot weaker than on this new, spiffier number. Another achievement worthy of some notice is “Crawling,” where they sound remarkably mature. That opening riff is just sooo soulful. THAT is how you create mood, guys! They really take their time in developing tension and threading it through an entire song.
It is too bad Sciatica have a difficult time with consistency because there are some truly beautiful moments on this album. In fact, a few solos successfully carry a number of songs, which, I realize, is sort of half a compliment. In the future I would like to hear more use of a clean guitar tone because its presence on Down the Beaten Path seems to be overshadowed by relatively mediocre dirge. The clean tone, at least to my ears, creates a far more complex mood.
While they do have a lot to work on in terms of crafting memorable hooks, which I think is a key element to a band as concerned with emotion as Sciatica seems to be, they have come a long ways since their debut EP. This is a more mature, tighter-sounding band than the one I reviewed not too long ago. If they continue to develop their craft at this rate, well…we might just have a noteworthy band on our hands. Keep up the good work, fellas.
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