04. Via Invested
05. I Am Pulse
06. Ember Eason
08. Flora: Yield
09. Broken Hands
2007 Equal Vision Records
There's a strong chance that M(US)IC, the debut album by Buffalo prog-emo-rockers Damiera, is going to surprise quite a few people in the new year. Although it will probably be dumped into the guilty pleasure category of many heavy music fans, there really isn't anything necessarily "guilty" about this disc.Whether Damiera is in the middle of laying down technically proficient guitar lines, syncopated rhythms, or spacey interludes, these guys clearly display that they're not at all lacking in innovation and talent, all while combining these aspects into some truly catchy rock songs.
It isn't really necessary to look much further than Equal Vision label mates Circa Survive and The Fall of Troy for musical comparisons. Damiera somehow manages to land somewhere in between the two, shying away from the heavier moments that The Fall of Troy boasts, and taking a more up-tempo approach than the guys of Circa Survive. But the similarities are there, and sections of M(US)IC are very comparable to both bands, such as the intense, Doppelganger-esque conclusion of "Via Invested," and the slower, swirling guitars of the bass driven "Ember Eason" that would feel right at home on Juturna. The delay-heavy instrumental track "Departure" could also draw similarities to the space rock leanings of bands like Hopesfall and Cave In.
However, the aspect of M(US)IC that is going to limit its exposure to new audiences is the vocal style. Just like in the instrumentation, Damiera also draws similarities to Circa Survive and The Fall of Troy in the vocal department. Although the vocal performance is not quite as impressive as that of Anthony Green's on Juturna, the vocalist does refrain from screaming, which is a definite plus for the style of music. Yet, the high-pitch style of vocals can be a bit grating at times, and will forever plague the band with the often mocked emo-rock label. It is unfortunate that vocals carry so much weight in the genre-labeling music world, because this disc has much more substance to it than the standard emo-rock offering. Still, I can't help but admit the vocals are the low point of the CD.
Bottom Line: Damiera's debut album is a pleasant surprise in the emo-rock world. Progressive song writing and technical aptitude make M(US)IC a very respectable disc, while up-tempo approaches and catchy melodies make it easy to get hooked on. This album is a definite buy for fans secure enough to admit that they have enjoyed past releases from Circa Survive and The Fall of Troy. It may not be for everyone, but it's definitely worthy of a chance.