Kiven - Step EP
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
My favorite thing about Step is that it has that indie blues sound I always wished Thrice would explore. “On Through,” “The Blur Ensues” and “The Irony” all make use of dimly lit lounge vibes that give way to guitarist Danny Schnair’s soulful and electrifying notes. See, on Step, Kiven is no longer just another band trying to emulate their heroes – they’re looking inward now, crafting their own sound. The result is a collection of massive crescendos, exciting experimentation and more than anything, music that just sounds good.
Step can be divided into two halves on a surface level look, with the first centered on aggression. “Release” opens with a symphony of discordant sounds and dissonant notes a la The Mars Volta, and then pulls it together for a chorus filled with guitars that saw their way through the melody. It’s got the type of raw energy they had going on in their fall 2010 single “Find the Time,” but here everything is much more fleshed out and tightly executed. “On Through” is calculated – that pompous opening riff has got to have some math rock influence to it, right? – but it works much the same way in terms of energy, slowly building to a no holds barred rock out session. This is the first song where you get the sense that Kiven is really coming into their own. The way they use the organ in the chorus and integrate the closing cadence (which wouldn’t sound out of place in a metalcore track) is unique and quite frankly, just really fun.
The other half is focused on elements of finesse. Starting with the piano interlude “Fires and Frames,” the tempo slows and the EP becomes all about intricacy. The angsty “The Blur Ensues” isn’t shy about getting bluesy, contrasting pleas to “come break me” with icy, mournfully picked notes. Front man Tyler Demorest is at his best here, hitting soprano pitches seemingly effortlessly – though we already knew he could do that from Two In the Same. “The Irony” is more of a reprise: It opens lethargically, but by the 4-minute mark, everyone’s pounding on their instruments.
At the risk of sounding cliché, what Kiven have created here is really something special. Step is by no means a perfect product, but there are so many aspects of it that are just downright intriguing. If there’s one band that “oozes potential” right now, it’s Kiven, and this EP invigorates my anticipation for what’s to come like few other albums have lately. Maybe it’s the fact that there’s finally a band bringing blues into alternative rock, or maybe it’s the spacey atmosphere I’ve been in the mood for lately. Ultimately, though, the specific reasons don’t matter as much as the fact that Step is just patently well done.