State Faults - Desolate Peaks
Record Label - Tiny Engines
Release Date - May 8, 2012
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If you manage to sneak both Thursday and La Dispute into a band’s ‘Recommended If You Like’ section, there is a 100% chance I will check it out. Hence comes my draw to State Faults. Call it Thursday, Envy and Pianos Become The Teeth’s brainchild... not that any of those bands have a direct hand in Desolate Peaks, but their respective sounds seem to make a keen impact on the ambience and tenacity of this record. In all honesty, Desolate Peaks has both its familiar ups and manageable downs. But for a band in their second year of existence, the natural sounding juxtaposition of beauty and abrasion on this record leaves us with a strong promise of where they can take their brand of post-hardcore in the future.
State Faults combine ambient melodies with bursts of rhythmic fits and tom-induced moodiness, much in a way that it would sound if Pianos Become The Teeth wrote a record after listening to a lot of Full Collapse. Not that Desolate Peaks sounds like some sort of screamo-tinged spawn of Thursday’s often most-revered record, but the tendency for pushing together surreal melodies with angular riffs reminds of both bands without being exactly like either.
Our introduction of sorts “Sleepwalker” sets the perfect tone for this record, with cathartic screams cutting through the surreal guitars like a beam of light through clouds. It’s a terrible metaphor, but the balance of moody, frantic passion against near grandiose melodies is a common occurrence on Desolate Peaks. Such presents the ending of “Arrowhead” – which is built around a simple, yet addictive riff that seems impossible not to get into. “Faultlines” takes an almost too similar path, at least in its melodies, pushing and pulling us into their world with varying levels of tension-filled chords and breaks of hope-glistened leads. The layering of sounds is intricate enough that there’s something different to follow along to on multiple listens, yet not so complicated that things are getting lost in the fold.
“Cities” pulses with a gripping guitar punch as the percussion sways in the background, while the frenzied drumming of “Wayfarer” pushes the track from section to section as a desperate outcry rather than just another wall of sound. With a sound very much based on rhythm and filling up a room per se, it is in tracks like these where the band seems both focused and capable of creating their most engaging cuts.
Desolate Peaks’ slower moments don’t quite succeed as much though, as “Hallways” seems lost in its opening of sparse percussion and less intricate guitar lines. It picks up later on with an army of blasting guitars, but even the buildup and transition into that point seem a bit forced. “Teeth and Bones” hits the mark a bit more evenly though, as a mysteriously woven melody swirls like a stew in the buildup of percussion and vocals. The stripdown to just vocals makes for a much more natural transition back into a quick burst of sound before returning to the simplicity of the beginning. Besides being much better executed, it gives a less condensed opportunity for the guitars and vocals to take a bit more of the limelight from an otherwise rather rhythmic, percussion-driven album.
The drawbacks on Desolate Peaks are mostly a sign of age or lack of experience to be truly blunt, the most prominent of which lies in the vocals of the majority of the record. The shrill high pitched screams that front most of this record certainly have a learning curve as far as listening to them, but the thing that makes them a bit difficult is the wavering tone that sneaks in and out of the screams. Perhaps it is a control issue, perhaps it is just the passion of the vocals producing something not quite as fitting as the usual tone, but it makes them hard to digest at times when the higher note lays over top of the rest of the instrumentals. It’s a bit nit-picky when it comes to execution and perhaps production, but for anyone who might be on the fence about what the band is doing musically, it could be a potential dealbreaker.
There’s always been an appeal to bands of this nature, but the mixture of bright and brash on Desolate Peaks might not fall into the laps of everyone. I would suggest though that if you find yourself in need of something similar to Pianos Become the Teeth or The Saddest Landscape, you will have no problem finding something to let swell around in your ears for a few hours on this record. With a little time, State Faults could be a serious player in the budding scene they draw much inspiration from.
Haven't heard this album yet but I imagine this review's pretty accurate. The abovementioned EP as Brother Bear was basically Pianos Jr., but really promising as such. The vocals I've heard from songs I've sampled off this are definitely a bit shrill, though.