CREATIVE WRITING Colepitz’s second effort. CREDIT VISION FOR VIEWERS
More than 10 years since their debut, self-titled full-length, Colepitz have long since had their day in the sun. But sometimes it really is about the music. Frontman Rob Korhonen (né Egbert) and guitarist Ray Suhy just had more tunes in them.
Nor should it surprise you that the band are smarter and more progressive than when they broke up in 2001. Not only has the hardcore/metal genre evolved, but both members of the songwriting team have been around the block a few times in the interim. The result, now re-teamed with drummer Brian Higgins (Lost Cause Desperados) and new bassist Tim Nickerson (Cyborg Trio) is a very listenable, yet at times very heavy (make sure you’ve got the volume on the headphones adjusted appropriately), mix of songs that are rooted in grind-it-out, down-tuned hardcore, but veer off in odd courses from time to time.
The most drastic case on the band’s new, nine-song No Tomorrow Tonight is “Slow Climb,” which opens with an odd video-game noise in the guitar mix, after a great sound from Higgins’s snare. The song has a ton of forward momentum, as Korhonen implores the listener to “break every mirror that you can find.” And there is the normal kind of breakdown, where the song moves to just the guitar and bass, with the drums quickly chasing, heavy on the double bass. But there is also the very drastic kind of breakdown, where, at the 3:00 mark, the song moves to a light jazz, the bouncy fare you’d hear at a standard art opening for old people. To escape it, the band drop in caustic piano chords, sounds played backwards, and a general crashing-about that is swiftly dispelled by the manic note-playing that begins “In the Middle of the Square.”
The song transitions are pretty great here, actually. The album opener, “Voices of War,” features a similar kind of drastic shift, when the band strip away everything and introduce a sitar drone and finger-picked classical guitar that plays out into the finish and bleeds into the beginning (nice work here by Jonathan Wyman in the studio and Adam Ayan on the mastering — everything is seamless) of “Sometimes It’s All You Have,” which takes that hand-off and launches the heavy guitars again while Korhonen declares, “nothing is more brutal than change.” But of course Colepitz seem to love change, as with Korhonen’s delivery, which moves from a whisper to monotone chant to full-throated explosion throughout the album. He even moves to full-on screamo in “Voices;” I was concerned that would carry throughout, but it doesn’t and Korhonen has a good feel for delivering what a song requires.
I think the screamo was mostly a nod to the past, actually. The future for Colepitz seems to be focused on creativity and progressive writing. “Of Loss and Grace” is a two-minute instrumental number where guitar and bass essentially grind out heavy-metal riffage, but on acoustic instruments. That shifts into the opening bars of the eight-minute-thirty “As the Lion Fades,” a roller coaster of heavier and lighter portions that finishes in an Al Di Meola-style jazz guitar piece. Like Zappa, this band loves to mess with the listener’s expectations. You’ll be blown away by the fat-bottomed sax work from Morphine’s Dana Colley on “In the Middle of the Square.”
Are they being too smart for their own good? Is there always a good musical reason why the sharp transitions work? Are there still listeners in our short-attention-span society who’ll appreciate it?
Colepitz are about to find out.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached email@example.com.
NO TOMORROW TONIGHT
Released by Colepitz | with Whitcomb + Ruin | at the Empire, in Portland | June 12 | colepitz.squarespace.com