MICROTIA – Spacemaker

reviewed by Ian Jones | Monday, August 9th, 2010

Microtia is a strange ear disfigurement that happens at birth, and the band holds up to their name in more ways than one. Spacemaker was released on the band’s own label; they also pride themselves on showing that being DIY can still be done in this digital age. Spacemaker is available for free on their website, but if you are a local to the Pacific Northwest, you can find a physical copy of their album built with recycled cases of beer and cigarette boxes; to top that, the band builds their own equipment, too.

The record is a mix between post-hardcore guitar and bass tones, Mastodon-esque drumming (in what the band calls “battle-rhythms”) and a taste of psychedellia all at the same time. While the guitars, bass, and keys work, the record could have used more tonal diversification to further bring itself out of the ever-terrifying pigeonhole of being labeled a generic or cookie cutter hardcore band.

The record is nine songs, 45 minutes long, and full of riffs, changes in tempo, and endless drumming. The percussion is right up the alley of someone who can’t stand a repetitive 4/4 beat that doesn’t change during the course of a song.

Microtia really has created their own unique sound carved out of many different genres, but I can’t tell if it all fits together yet. My favorite parts on the album were the interlude and the instrumental breaks/breakdowns/build-ups because those parts did not have any vocals. Most of the songs can get you head banging, moshing, hardcore dancing, or whatever you like to do to really get into a song, but once the vocals come in they take you right out of the little world they created for you. Songs like “That’s the Problem With Owning Half the State of California” and “Add Insult to Injury” delve into breakdowns that you wouldn’t expect from the band towards the end, and they handle it in such a manner that you don’t even notice what they’re up to in a style very similar to Between the Buried and Me. Songs like “Tone Mountain vs. The Body of Riffage” need a vocalist who can go all out falsetto breaking champagne glasses to get the most power and energy while at the same time giving some much needed variety to the album — again, think Between the Buried and Me or The Mars Volta.

The vocals are stuck in this strange realm between a screaming and singing style, but without the range to actually bring it to the highest gear. The result is something that gets pegged into “aggressive singing” identical to Avenged Sevenfold when M. Shadows decided to stop screaming to save his vocal chords.

If you don’t dig on hybrids of bands/genres, you’re better off sticking to bands who danced around the areas Microtia tried to tackle all at once first, such as Planes Mistaken For Stars, Between the Buried and Me, and At the Drive-In/Mars Volta.

(False Eye Records, no address provided)

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