By Niki D’Andrea
Phoenix post-hardcore band Greeley Estates has lost and replaced six members since forming in 2002, but that hasn’t prevented them from achieving several sonic milestones, including playing every date on the Vans Warped Tour in 2005 and 2006 (as well as every date on the 2006 Taste of Chaos tour), and co-headlining the MySpace Fall Tour 2005.
Greeley Estates’ latest triumph is their upcoming third full-length album, Go West Young Man, Let the Evil Go East (Science Records). The album drops May 6, but I’ve had an advance copy since the last week of March and have listened to the record extensively. And I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with it.
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What I love about Go West is the deft, sonic shape-shifting the instrumentation takes -- blistering power chords, psychotic childish sing-song interjections, furious metal bridges, and soulful vocal breakdowns come together in a show of complex, high-caliber musicianship. The opening track, “Blue Morning,” is one of the album highlights, with its refrain of “I’m not a monster/I’m just a sick man,” dissonant six-strings, and shouted punk chorus. Lyrically, the song could be interpreted as the self-loathing confessions of a child molester or similar sicko, but according to the band, this song was penned after watching the zombie flicks 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. Other terrific tracks include “In the Ashes,” which takes on an epic, opera-metal feel (thanks to some symphonic keyboards), and “If She Only Knew,” which comes as close to an emo-pop number as the band gets (but still chugs along full-metal-throttle).
Now, for the “hate” part of this love/hate relationship: the vocals. Singer Ryan Zimmerman actually has quite a range, evidenced by his “straight” singing on songs like “Mother Nature Is a Terrorist.” But he spends 90% of this record just screaming his lungs out, and the lack of vocal diversity often overshadows the band’s stellar compositions and brings a sameness to the tracks that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
Screeching singing aside, Go West is a solid album that should continue to propel Greeley Estates into the mainstream. The band is also performing dates on the Hurley Stage of the Vans Warped Tour from June 20 through August 17, including the tour’s June 25 stop at Cricket Pavilion.
Fans can pre-order Greeley Estates’ new album here.