For Fans Of
Topshelf Records, as the home of Pianos Become the Teeth and The Saddest Landscape, are certainly no stranger to rostering bands with chaotic instrumentation, intriciate guitar parts, and loud, emotive vocals. With We Were Skeletons‘ most recent record, ‘Blame & Aging‘, it proves to be something the label have a knack at.
‘Blame & Aging‘, the Pennsylvania band’s second full-length on Topshelf and third overall, picks up pretty much where 2010’s self-titled LP left off, providing a follow-up that ultimately sounds more refined, more polished, and more complete. Frenzied, screamed vocals, complement heavy, complex guitar parts to create a sound often reminiscent of Orchid or Hot Cross. However, with this third LP, the band have developed a flow that inches away from the frantic pandemonium of earlier efforts; maintaining the same energy while managing a more refined edge. For the most part, it works.
Tracks such as ‘Long Night, Disease Artist‘ and ‘Haunting the Ghost‘ are evidence of the band balancing drive while exploring pace, melody and texture. Complex guitar parts are used more sparingly than in previous efforts, leading to them feeling more like highlights, special moments of profiency rather than a driving force. Instrumental tracks ‘Blood Tongue‘ and ‘Pain is Not the Cleanser‘, with their strong, leading basslines and Fugazi-esque riffs sound heavily influenced by 90’s post-hardcore.
Album strong point King of Tricks sees it all come together – impressive technical ability is displayed alongside a strong rhythm section as screamed, mid-tempo vocals are set against a backdrop of heavy, dissonant guitar riffs. The song closes with dual, clean guitars playing a melody akin to the guitar work of labelmates Pianos Become the Teeth.
The album is let down in part by at parts sounding like filler material, in particular during the album’s multiple instrumentals, which can at times feel quite simply like unnecessary variations on a theme. Clocking in at 43 minutes long with 13 tracks, there are moments that could see maintained interest drop for a few moments and ultimately fail to add to the coherence of the record.
Altogether, ‘Blame & Aging’ sees We Were Skeletons come firmly into their own skin, providing an extremely solid release that both wears its influences proudly on its sleeves while defiantly carving out a sound of their own, blending energetic chaos with technique and intricacy.
2. Long Night
3. King Of Tricks
4. The Buried Seat
5. Blood Tongue
6. Disease Artist
7. End All Suffering
8. Blame & Aging
9. Appear, Disappear
10. Slow Death
12. Pain Is Not The Cleanser
13. Haunting The Ghost