Awake At Last
Theatrical rock has been making a big statement in the post-hardcore scene over the recent years with the early discography of Set It Off, the wild antics of The Venetia Fair, and the story-telling of Alesana. And following in the footsteps of those bands is Awake At Last, who are finally breaking out of the underground and onto center stage.
Having been a band for the better part of the 2010s, Awake At Last has released a slew of tracks and EPs all leading up to this: The Life/Death/Rebirth EP, featuring six tracks all averaging around the 4-minute mark in length. Displaying a prowess for song structure and a taste for originality, this EP exemplifies what an independent band can do on their own, with just the music to guide them.
Opening with “Purgatorium,” Awake At Last create a dramatic introduction for Life/Death/Rebirth. Whimsy vaudevillian melodies align with contemporary riffs making the track both catchy, but unique, as well as laying down the perfect platform for vocalist Vince Torres to really show the range he has pushed his vocals to.
There’s a broad spectrum of genres that shine through on this EP. From the heavier, chugging guitars on “Analysis Paralysis” to the gospel-like vibe of “Constellations” to a very old school ‘80s-inspired guitar solo on “Dark Waltz,” it’s intricate moves like this that show that Awake At Last could be a serious force to reckon with in the near future.
Unfortunately for the Delaware-based five-piece, the band is still independent, and the lack of financial backing on the production side of the record really shows. Tracks like “Analysis Paralysis” feel muted and distorted, instead of crisp and clean, and the levels and tones of the instrumentals on “Reflections” feel muddy and jumbled together. Songs that should be great, come off as just alright due to the production, however, they all lay the groundwork for what should be stellar live performances. The issue here is not songwriting, per se, but the execution of these ideas when recorded together.
Awake At Last take risks that many newer bands wouldn’t leap on, and it sets the band far apart from their peers. Having the sophistication to include intricate solos, like the one that appears after the bridge on “White Rabbit” is a cool way to mix-up the conventional verse-chorus song structure seen left and right in today’s music world.
Lyrically, the band also stepped out of their comfort zone. Citing lines from “Constellations” within the closing track “Reflections” is an innovative way to make sure the listener views the EP as scenes of one larger work, and not just a collection of singles. “We either care too much or we don’t care enough/I’m sick of the concept of falling in love” rings out as the line the listener will take away from the EP, both for its memorable words, but more so for how catchy the phrasing is delivered.
Awake At Last are really coming into their own. After releasing an array of singles, it’s nice to see them release a cohesive body of work that sets the groundwork for where their career is headed. There’s an element of sophistication in this record that makes it difficult to believe this isn’t a signed band being pushed to flourish by a high-level producer or label.