I the Mighty – Satori
Record Label: Equal Vision
Release Date: June 11th 2013
Every so often, a band comes along that just takes me by surprise. Last year, it was post-hardcore band Hands Like Houses (whom are releasing a record next month) with debut record Ground Dweller, but for this year, that surprise is debut record Satori by fellow post-hardcore band I the Mighty. This band has been on my radar for a long time, including last year, when they released a wonderful EP in the form of Karma Never Sleeps, which was their Equal Vision Records debut. After announcing, and hyping their debut record on Equal Vision with a few singles, their time has finally come to release the record. When first single “Speak to Me” was released, I was rather skeptical, because the song featured some screaming by vocalist Brent Walsh, and while these screams were minimal and executed wonderfully, I (along with many others) were hoping that they would stick to their progressive rock roots, a la in the vein of Circa Survive, Tides of Man, and other bands in the genre. After listening to Satori, they certainly have managed to keep that sound, along with adding a few others that were not present on Karma Never Sleeps. Their progressive rock sound is still there, and in full force, but they’ve included a bit of a harder edge, with some post-hardcore instrumentation, along with some screams here and there. Like I said, the screams are minimal, and because of that, they’re executed nicely here. The fact that they’re so sparse makes the impact of the scream much more, because it adds to the emotion and to the vocals, rather than just being there the entire time. Of course, Walsh is a great vocalist, either way. He’s easily one of the best in genre, and he belts it out throughout this record.
If there’s one problem I have with it, it’s the fact that it’s rather lengthy. An EP was a nice debut release for Equal Vision, because it helped the listeners to get acquainted with them, and have time to develop a love for them. That’s definitely happened to myself, so it was much more exciting for this record to come. But the record itself is about 51 minutes, which is the same length as labelmate Eisley’s new album Currents. The difference is, that record flows meticulously well, while Satori has a few roadbumps along the way. The road bumps aren’t really bad songs, but more so, they’re just unexciting and blend in with the rest of this record. One thing I really admire about it is how ambitious it is. Being in the post-hardcore genres, single note breakdowns, Cookie Monster vocals, or very high and whiny vocals, tend to plague it, and a few bands like I the Mighty and Hands Like Houses are here to change that, to put it simply. Despite being so ambitious, there are moments where it just blends in with everything else. As a whole, this record is great, but it’s hard to pinpoint specific songs. There are a few songs that are really good as standalone tracks, such as opening track “Speak to Me.” This song is interesting, because it kind of introduces their new sound, which is a mix between progressive rock, and post-hardcore. A few screams are woven throughout the track, but not done so overbearingly. There are just enough screams to make it a bit heavier, but not enough to really distract the listener from Brent Walsh’s vocals. His voice is easily one of the best things about this record, and the instrumentation itself is also very solid throughout. Some songs are very melodic, and “proggy,” while others are much more aggressive, playing with the post-hardcore aspect of their sound. It’s always been there, but they finally decided to get a bit heavier for this record. Not heavy enough to alienate their fanbase, but enough to experiment with their sound, and it really works. They don’t come across as some “br00tal” scene band, but a really unique post-hardcore/progressive rock band. There are some tracks that deviate from that formula, such as second track “Failures.” The band premiered a music video for the track when the album came out, and it was really awesome, but this is the longest track on the record, clocking in at a little more than 5 minutes.
To be completely honest, the first half of the record is very solid. “Speak to Me” is a misleading intro track, because it’s not the best song on the record, but it starts it off nicely, and the next four tracks are great. The next four tracks all flow seamlessly together, like a record should. After awhile, some tracks just blend together. It’s not the band’s fault, but with the record being 51 minutes, it’s bound to happen. The middle of the record is where things start to just blend together, but one song that saves it is seventh track “Four Letter Words.” This song is a bit different, merely because it features a female vocalist, Colleen D’Agostino of the band The Material. She and Walsh share a bit of a duet so it does shake things up a bit. The next couple tracks, “Echoes” and “Occupaitence” seem to be a one-two punch, basically, and are two of my favorite tracks. The former reminds me of “Cutting Room Floor” from the Karma Never Sleeps EP, because both tracks have lyrics about questioning authority, specifically leaders of the government, and the latter track goes into a bit more detail about it. What’s interesting about this track is that it’s a two-minute acoustic track that slows things down ever so slightly. It seems to serve as an interlude, and it does its job nicely. The rest of the record isn’t awful, and it does continue the post-hardcore/progressive combo, but it doesn’t do much. These tracks don’t really do anything different, although closing track “The Quick Fix” is a great track to close the record with.
Honestly, this record doesn’t suffer from too many problems; the one glaring thing that bothers me is how it is rather lengthy. The record is about 51 minutes, and being that it’s a debut record, it’s a bit steep. It’s a great record, and their sound is really interesting, but if they kept the record a bit shorter, I’m sure that this record would be a bit better. That’s a small nitpick, though, because if you’re a huge fan of this band, the more songs, the better. But for being a debut record, it feels like there is a little too much going on here. Fellow post-hardcore/progressive band Hands Like Houses’ debut record Ground Dweller kind of had the same problem, but in a different way. That band’s sound was unique, and the record was a nice length, but they didn’t really have any direction in their sound. This band definitely has direction, but the record is a bit lengthy. Because of that, some songs can get lost in the mix. The lasting value is great, however, because there’s a lot to take from it, so it may take a couple listens to really grasp this record. For being such a young band, and with a handful of EPs under their belt, this is a very impressive debut record. Needless to say, they’re going to do just fine in the genre they’re in.