We Were Skeletons - Blame & Aging
Record Label: Topshelf Records
Release Date: October 22, 2012
Though at one point a band much more focused on noodling melodies than beefed up songwriting, We Were Skeletons have changed a little bit in their career as a sonically-weaving post-hardcore outfit. Blame & Aging, their latest LP on Topshelf Records, shows that with change their is not always the seemingly disappointing bummer some would have. Sure, We Were Skeletons aren’t ascending to major-label stardom, but the marked focus on their groove-laden, powerful sound reaps a bounty of rewards on the often leaner, meaner gut punches and frantic stomping of this record. Blame & Aging takes a confident step in downplaying initially impressive musicianship for the much more impressive feat of memorable songwriting, making this the band’s strongest work to date.
The band sets a solemn yet brooding tone with the instrumental opening “Ruined / Wasted” before truly burst forward with ripping riffs in “Long Night”. The frantic percussion and bobbing melodies play off of each other as the raspy shouts cut through with desperation. We Were Skeletons aren’t super flashy or technically show-stopping on Blame & Aging, but that doesn’t mean their musicianship is lacking this time around, as the trio picks their moments to lean on melodic slathering (“Appear, Disappear”, “Blood Tongue”, “Slow Death”) that is somewhat sparse but well-placed. Instead, the band is much more focused on hammering us with strumming (“Disease Artist”) or gently leading us along (“Haunting the Ghost”). The methodology is much more concise on Blame & Aging though, as the flow from section to section builds the tension and angst regardless of the amount of aggression or abrasion the band is tapping in the process.
That cohesiveness is countered by an often elusive vocal approach that seems to never follow any sort of pattern or persuasion through this record. Sometimes anthemic (“Haunting the Ghost”), other times purely cathartic (“Disease Artist”) or much more focused on tensive retention (“Slow Death”), We Were Skeletons use their varied vocals on an impressively varied scale to back the musical timbre on any given song. And it certainly stands out considering the good chunk of purely instrumental moments on this record that the vocals are both well done and lyrically intriguing if you’re willing to dig into them.
While not instantaneous catchy or quick to pop out into something outside the norm, the meatier, longer lasting jams on Blame & Aging make We Were Skeletons an honestly much more enjoyable band to take in this time around. The chunky guitars and jangled grooves make this full-length an album a bit more of a grower, but that doesn’t make it any less good – it is a testament to the underlying strength of these tracks that they can stick with you for as long as they should.
Awesome, awesome album. So worth the $5 that I paid for it on Bandcamp. Thanks Topshelf for another fantastic album this year. Topshelf is literally killing it this year.. Slingshot Dakota, You Blew It!, TWIABP.. so much perfect.