Pastime - From The Cellar
Record Label: Win/Loss
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Pastime is a fairly new band from Bangor, Maine that plays a melodic, euphoric style of hardcore. On their first EP, Beyond the Sky, the band established a sound of fast punk and paired it with technical guitars and intense, uplifting vocals. Just after one listen, I could tell that Pastime was clearly quite talented, but their EP was unfortunately released to a very limited audience. It’s a shame that such talent can often go unnoticed, but Pastime continued to plug along, despite the lack of attention, and have greatly improved their craft since then.
The October 2012 release, From the Cellar, demonstrates this continued progression. At first, the opening track, “Colorblind,” seems like a huge departure from the tight sound that made Pastime so great. A 3-minute clean, subdued intro establishes more of a post-rock kind of soundscape, but it slowly (and still perfectly) builds into the heaviest, most powerful section of emotional intensity that Pastime has released thus far. If you don’t get chills from hearing the vocalist shout at the top of his lungs “Only time can pull us apart” at the song’s conclusion, then clearly, you aren’t listening.
For such a smalltime, relatively unknown band, Pastime has a surprisingly refined sound. The band is able to blend two very contrasting styles together wonderfully, as if they’ve been doing it for years. They can make a stylistic 180 in a matter of seconds—going from playing some of the fastest punk imaginable to then doing something that could almost be heard on an Explosions in the Sky record. EP closer “Nailed Shut” is a perfect example of this, boasting a bridge that’s overflowing with delicate melody, but can still somehow transition flawlessly back into a huge, powerful outro. Impressive musicianship can also be heard on the second track, “Out of the Rocking Chair,” where a ridiculously fast guitar solo plays in the verses, never missing a beat. The drummer shines here as he nails every fill, and he’s even able to hold an extended blast beat for what seems like forever.
Where Pastime falters is in their ability to combine and utilize their strengths in such a way where they can actually transcend these already well-established styles and genres. There’s no question about whether or not Pastime is a good band (they certainly are). The problem lies in the fact that they haven’t quite reached their potential yet. There are moments of greatness—like the huge guitar harmonies in “Colorblind” and the powerful, euphoric conclusion to “Nailed Shut”—but there are also moments where a bit more thought and rewriting could have really improved some otherwise unmemorable sections. The extremely tight, impressive guitar solos that play in both “Out of the Rocking Chair” and “Nailed Shut” are both unfortunately buried under the vocalist's yell. One of Pastime’s greatest strengths is in their lead guitar, but it gets overshadowed multiple times on From the Cellar by the vocals, which aren’t bad by any means—they are just quite one-note and are nowhere near as diverse as the instrumentation.
In the end, though, From the Cellar is still a surprisingly refreshing EP that has slipped under too many radars. There is strong talent here, and Pastime will definitely appeal to fans of hardcore, pop punk, and even post-rock. It’s unfortunate (but also a blessing) that all of their music has to be made free for download on their BandCamp, but these Bangor, Maine musicians are truly worthy of your attention. Even if you skip over Pastime this time, they’ll come storming back with an even more impressive release soon, and by that point, there will be no stopping them.