While still spending the time writing, One Step Closer felt trapped and mired in idleness. The mental impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown have birthed one hell of e record with This Place You Know. With an early, self-released demo (6 songs, 2017) and a six songs 12” (Trible B, 2019), OSC began to draw attention. But in the beginning of 2020, OSC planned to shake the world with a single. And they did. But the world shook back and completely halted all of our music scenes. Paralyzed and writhing, OSC watched the world as we all did, isolated and helpless. Depression, death, and loss permeated each of our stories. Now in late 2021, OSC transmit their stories on This Place We Know.
The Wilkes-Barre, PA darlings explode on their first track, offering a unsettled perspective of the last two years. “I Feel So” bursts out of the speakers immediately. Fast and forward, the intensity is engaging. If this is emo, I’ll take it. This is not the ‘90s Promise Ring/ Wedding present vibe or the Hot Topic redundant, sophomoric, formulaic deathcore of 2000’s. I mean, the term simply means ‘emotional’. The power of the music continues on a cool frenetic riff of the second track, “Lead to Grey”, is enthralling. The music, the
chants, the pacing, again is designed to get everyone in the crowd involved and to move as one amorphous entity. The sullen screams of Ryan Savitski are draining, but in a good way. It’s relatable. And considering the subject matter, appropriate. But again scrams, not whines.
This is Emo in the Turning Point aspect; and some more obscure references (from Braid to The Cranberries). OSC’s music always has the hardcore foundation. Currently comprised of guitarist Grady Allen, drummer Tommy Norton, bassist Brian Talipan, and guitarist Ross Thompson; One Step Closer resurrect the Have Heart/Verse, Go It Alone/Sinking Ships, Ruiner/Defeater sparse, embroiled, climactic manner of writing. The quiet dissident parts emphasize the upbeat, two-step parts to add a profound atmosphere of catharsis and revelation. They’ve done shows with Have Heart. And Pat Flynn (Now of Fiddlehead, also on Run For Cover) offers an few paragraphs on the semantic meaning and impact of One Step Closer, expounding on Throeau.
This Place You Know is created for a sweaty melee of a live show. The energy is palpable and transforms any listening area into a potential pit. While some songs have the respites, OSC also throws in longer sections of songs that are slow and quiet. But never too indulgent, just enough to echo the emptiness.
These sections bring musicality and texture. The additional layers of some female choral singing mixed in strengthen certain songs. The production captures the live feeling; nothing too clean or polished. But the more delicate vocal and guitar strumming are treated with reverence and highlighted.
As with Have Heart and Verse from 15 years ago – OSC is about the build, the anticipation; and, consequently, the emotional pay off when the music is full and furious. Often times, there (see “Home for the Night”) is a cacophonous deluge of sound and translates the overwhelming feeling of the lyrics.
“Pringle Street” is a fantastic track that reduces some of the guitars, but the drums continue the energy and intensity. It is fun to listen to OSC play with varied manners by which to convey the same feeling, song to song. This song then does slow down as it ends, but just long enough to resonate and not get boring. “Hereafter” is straight quiet song with piano set in the middle of the record. The ending of the record hammers down with “Autumn”, “Chrysanthemum” – a mid-paced beast, and and “As the City Sleeps”. The ferocity continues, OSC do not dawdle in a quiet place for their exit. Searing guitar lines pound away, conveying the constricting loneliness and furtive reclusiveness.
One Step Closer have made a banging record with This Place You Know. Clawing at the walls of 2020, OSC bring a voracious expression to the table with maturity and reflection. The music created here, clutching and crushing, mirrors the memories of the prior 18 months perfectly.
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