This Town, A Forest - Emerge
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: April 21, 2011
I want to get right down to business with this review, so I'll keep the formalities short. Forming in 2009, This Town, A Forest is one of the several recent up and coming melodic rock/post-hardcore bands to come out of the Australian scene. They released their initial offering, Emerge, just two months ago.
Like their fellow Australian siblings Built on Secrets and Capulet, This Town, A Forest take the basic template which Saosin laid down: anthemic vocals with thick, intricate drumming and layered guitar work--and expound on it in their own unique way. The greater portion of the guitar work takes a noticeable divergence from the typified upbeat ambience while still focusing on deep and rapid technicality, instead incorporating darker, thrashier lead and rhythm riffs. This, coupled with the Beau Bokan/Brendan Brown-crossed vocals of Tim D'Gostino, along with the raw screams from lead guitarist Michael D'Angelo which are best executed in "Tyrants", carve the features of TREOS and City Escape into Emerge's countenance.
Emerge is chiefly defined by one attribute: unpredictability. Before my beloved readers begin blasting me for using this adjective due to the blatantly generic song structure and the flaws discussed below, it is in the subtle intricacies of each track where the unpredictable nature of the band's potential is unveiled. The vocals take a very different melodic approach from their counterparts in the RIYL. The melodies may seem cacophonous and mismatched at first listen, but their personality eventually adopts its own unique fit. The guitar work is the same way, with some shining examples at 0:59 of "The Definition Of..." and in the opening verse of "Me I've Had So Many Names". About the only thing that keeps TTAF consistent with their siblings is the percussion style, but only to a limited extent due to the many unexpected tempo shifts.
Despite these things, it's also important to keep in mind that unpredictability is often a double-edged sword, leading to inconsistency and varied incoherence. Unfortunately, Emerge does not escape these consequences despite the countless bright spots that litter it. Even more unfortunate is that these strengths are sometimes misused, and the inertia of said strengths come back to strike them in the face. The most immediately glaring example of this is the various dancecore breakdowns, which simply don't suit the collective work. It seems as if the band was trying to make themselves more accessible to a crowd who wouldn't be able to appreciate the pinnacle of their talent. The vocals are also in need of slight modification in several instances, both in placement and production. The pitch correction is quite noticeable on a few note transitions, and the screams are sometimes misapplied (see: 1:35 of "Like Owls"). In addition, the intro of "Vitrified Skies" could use a bit more beef than just the programming as well.
Emerge is a decent EP from a band with a lot of potential, both tapped and untapped. However, it is a work approached with some hesitation, even for fans of the genre seeking to separate the wheat from the tares. Because of this, my fear is that the EP will be written off, either for its undesirable features, its unpredictable approach to the genre, or a mixture of the two. Give this EP a few listens before you judge it. Despite its imperfections, there is much to be appreciated.