Release DetailsLABEL Prosthetic
RELEASED ON 6/26/2007
The Minor Times
Summer Of Wolves
posted on 6/2007 By:
While it’s certainly warranted, I feel a strange pang of regret whenever I push The Minor Times into that group of not-quite-readys, those that keep fumbling the handoff from the sadly departed Botch and recently reformed Coalesce. Compared to the younger bands currently coming up that have been fed a steady diet of We Are the Romans and Functioning on Impatience, The Minor Times should come off as a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and a little more diverse. After all, part of their membership includes a couple guys from Inkling, a band that was alive before either of those aforementioned influential outfits truly hit their stride. So, you’d figure they’d have a greater insight into the sound and be able to hurdle the pits that the fresh-faced consistently fall into. But, as Summer of Wolves makes clear—in much the same way that Making Enemies did before it—they’re just as plagued as their peers by their reliance on anger, hoping that the maxed-out aggression can carry these tunes instead of a strong focus on songwriting.
The move from Level-Plane to Prosthetic hasn’t changed much and this follow-up to their full length debut is still in the same mold. We’re treated to another set of songs that perpetually plow forward with slightly mathy and definitely similar sounding riffs culled from the best work of the previous noisy metalcore elite. But, while low key, there are slight differences. The band sounds like they’ve been afforded a bigger budget and more time in the studio as more electronic effects creep into these tunes. And then, there are the parts where they seemingly pull back, discreetly trying to offer something other than pummeling grooves and Sean Ingram-esque bellows. For the first half of the album, it isn’t too apparent, popping up here and there and maybe foreshadowing a Poison the Well-type move away from the metalcore assault. But then, there’s “This is the Blues.”
Clocking in at eight minutes, it’s ambitious to say the least, especially considering that it’s coming from a band that was only previously concerned with discordant licks, pulsing bass lines, and a little bit of groove to make the neck snap back and forth. And, for the first five minutes that’s exactly what you get with no surprises. As the distorted guitars ring out, though, the track takes on a completely different feel, almost like it was the missing rock b-side of Kid A. They’re able to play around a great keyboard melody instead of steamrolling through everything. And then, to complete the near-Twilight Zone transformation, the band breaks into a section of group na-na-na-nas. True, they're fully out of their comfort zone by shedding the anger, but, unlike most of the album, it works. It puts Summer of Wolves into focus by giving the turbulent sections a point of contrast, something the previous twenty minutes wasn't able to do. Finally, it’s something different.
And, I guess that’s why I feel that pang o’ regret, because I don’t want to slight them. The Minor Times shows that they could grow into those currently vacant big shoes with a little tweaking. They’re really on the verge of finding their own voice and that’s a nice change of pace and something that I don’t get from the younger Botchketeers and Lil’ Orpahn Ingrams out there. Of course, I could just be daydreaming about the future and praying for this band to fully fulfill the promise they've shown ever since Chris Chambers Never Misses. Floating back to the here and now, you realize that most of this album sticks to the same formula with few rest spots and that’s why they haven’t yet progressed past the rest. They’re stuck in the same gear, almost as if they’re not confident enough to break free from their moorings more often. Their dependence on anger acts like a kind of cover-up, masking the very real lack of variation.
Which isn't a problem if you don't let your brain get in the way. I get why some would call the rage riveting, because, for most, there’s something that’s strangely appealing about hearing someone so pissed off. The anger sends that tingle of excitement shooting through your body, the result of knowing that you’re sharing a cathartic, personal moment with these guys. Unfortunately, that’s all Summer of Wolves is, really; pissed off music that sounds good in the moment. If you undress these tracks, there’s not a whole lot lingering below the lingerie, nothing that leaves a lasting impression. It’s a listening experience that’s equivalent to the aftermath of detonating dynamite to make way for a foolishly placed mine: the adrenaline rushes during the blast, but when the dust settles and your ears stop ringing, you realize that’s there’s no gold in them thar hills. It’ll fill a need if you’re looking for something to get the blood pumping, but it won’t do much else. However, the fact that The Minor Times could be much more is something to hold on to.
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