Former Thieves – The Language That We Speak
Record Label: No Sleep Records
Release Date: April 19, 2011
When punk died and two polar ends of the genre sprouted soon after in the closing of the '70s and into the '80s D.I.Y. scene, it seemed the idea of punk and arguments about what it should and shouldn't sound like not only created a rift in the genre for some, it also helped to push the sound further for a select few. In one extreme, art school kids were taking left-field antics and structuring something unhinged. Others sought to make the genre stronger and more intense than the pioneers a few years before. While the rift only lasted so long, the end of the '80s and mid-'90s brought some thought-provoking bands crafting the precedents of the past few years around metal, pop and rock. Over the years, bands like Cap'n Jazz, Fugazi, Botch and Refused showcased the sound of post-hardcore - the two split ideas of the punk movement rolled back into one new progressive idea.
Over the past few decades, since the beginning of Rites of Spring, more bands continued to pick up those ideas and meld them into their own. Some will hate the way that it "rips off the past" and "isn't what it used to be," while others will embrace it as the saving grace to a few years of slump in the genre: carbon copies, lack of creativity, etc. Dismayed, many of us in our 20's long for a reunion of many bands we were too dumb to pick up on because they were either (a) too underground or (b) not on this thing called the Internet. Fortunately, there will always be that next generation of kids doing their best to harness similar ideas of "how it was." Many of us have caught "the Wave" and are excited about the present/future.
Enter from stage Midwest, we have Former Thieves and their full-length debut The Language That We Speak. It's a testament to all of the above. It's passionate. It's thought-provoking at every turn. It encapsulates everything that should be right in the dying genre that is the second-gen Headbanger's Ball of rejects. Much like last year's Wrestling Moves, The Language That We Speak intends to make a mark with every last guitar sweep and and vocal rally. "First World Blues," the siren on the album's trailer, opens with not only a riff, but the first lines of a new anthem. It says, "We're tired of chugs, and we want scholarly instrumental play again." Tone is what producer Chris Common does best with Former Thieves here, and it is really what drives the force of the album home. Ben Lynn's bass doesn't just follow, it takes its own direction as it counters Joshua Parks' guitar parts. As outlandish as many elitists may find the next statement, there hasn't been work like this since the days of Cook and Knudson. (Continue to album review's replies for backlash of those last few words.)
Don't worry angry kids, there's going to be plenty on the album to get your aggression out. Joshua Sparks comes down hard on his kit throughout the raging "Trust Fund Kids," and prepare to circle pit with your best buds during "Pacemaker Trendsetter." Channeled through the execution of all that blunt emotion is how well the songs are structured and continue maneuvering throughout, and it's the album's closing title track that will stop your pit moves in their tracks. It's a song that gradually climbs and falls, but it's where every member displays the best of their talents. With every building minute, the song hits harder and harder. As Matt Schmitz screams out "I'm passing the blame!" over and over again up until the dropped frequencies of the album, it's the proper ending to the best post-hardcore record to surface in a little under a decade. It's the genuine statement of "Okay, things have kind of sucked for a few years, but this is what I have to give you to make up for it."
"Dead Horses Are Turned Into Glue" contains an outstanding guitar riff as Schmitz screams "My senses are wearing out." For a while there, I thought I was getting too old too quick. At last year's Warped Tour, I felt like the dud reporter that just didn't understand "the new thing." Now I know it wasn't may age. In fact, it's not my tastes at all. Now it's the time for the next group of gifted architects to surprise us with a new generation of talent. Even through a few listens, The Language That We Speak can run itself together at some points. Past that little bit of tarnish on the trophy shines a powerful record with a bold contemporary statement for those kids not respecting the greats of the past and harboring generic ideas.