by Mustapha Mond
Pretend for just a second that you didn't hear 7 Angels 7 Plagues' demo, 'Until the Day Breathes and the Shadows Flee,' and you didn't fall in love with it.Pop in 'Jhazmyne's Lullaby.'"A Farewell to a Perfect Score" comes on, and instead of the usual opening, a bad-ass sample or evil acoustic guitar solo, drums blast out before any other sound, a fierce and simple epigraph for what is to come.After a few seconds, the vocals and guitars jump into the fray together: the vocals gruff and deep enough for deathmetal, but still shot through with emotion and character; the guitars, surprisingly, not doing double-bass mosh like the drums and vocals would have you expect, but running a simple chord progression, with each repetition yearning upward, grasping at something, and then falling into chaotic disarray.
Get the point7A7P is unquestionably a metalcore band, now and always, but they way they do their metalcore is nothing short of remarkable.Unlike From Autumn to Ashes, say, their stylistic expression comes not between tracks but within them: long songs that gradually melt from one sound to another (unlike the frenetic jumps of bands like Every Time I Die), pounding drums offset by calm riffs, small snatches of melody that songs catch on, like a kitten with a piece of string, and then suddenly blast into breakdowns with blistering high end notes struck at lighting speed.They are at their most powerful by far when the guitar is high and bright, with that mournful whine perfected by Taken - these are times when the instruments would not be out of place in an emo band - and the vocals are so deep, so rough, that the force of contrast almost brings tears to your eyes.Or mine, at least.
'Jhazmyne's Lullaby,' though maintaining a constant sound throughout, still manages to explore the nuances of their music in ways that, at times, are brilliant.I particularly like the opening of "Away With Words," coming at the end of "The Afternoon," a delicate, ephemeral acoustic piece."Away With Words" opens with a short, quick melody played 4 times on a piano, with cymbals tapping a frantic beat underneath; then drums modulate, and suddenly, distorted guitars scream the same melody back while a thundering bass drum takes the place of cymbals.Or, crank up "Dandelion" and stand in front of a mirror.Trust me.It's just sick.Or, the end of "Arcadia Falls," when you realize that there actually have been no Real breakdowns on the entire album - up to this point.The double-bass and sing along are not to be believed.And then, of course, the title track of the album, "Jhazmyne's Lullaby," a sparse, touching piano piece - not unlike the end of Bound's "Fire's Dying."
On the whole, 7 Angels 7 Plagues is a tremendous pleasure to listen to.They are the rare sort of band that can both envision a sound for themselves, and have the technical prowess to achieve it. 'Jhazmyne's Lullaby' is about as good as metalcore can get without forging its own genre, and 7A7P even takes these first hesitant steps.If you appreciate the good life in our little underground scene, if you like quality bands, go and find this album.They will satisfy the hunger.