REVIEW: The Life And Times, The Magician, Stiff Slack

Posted March 14th, 2007 by eric

The Life and Times is slowly turning into the colossal beast it’s always intended to be. On this EP for Japan’s Stiff Slack records, Allen Epley unleashes his heaviest riffs since Shiner’s heyday. But the atmospherics are just as potent, as the band eschews technical bravado in favor of a taut synergy.

Epley’s voice transitions from his patented, raspy sneer into a soaring falsetto that hovers above the den of swirling guitar interplay and crushing, punishing drums. On the EP’s would-be-single, “Ave Maria”, the spidery riff opens up into a glorious chorus of shimmering post-rock and recessive, multitracked vocal melodies.

The mood is calculatedly dark and oppressive with a consistent, stomping mid-tempo. You can practically see the cracks in the floor forming as the music pounds like a lumbering beast. The abrupt changes that Shiner made famous are nowhere to be found. Instead, this Kansas City trio revels in hypnotic repetition but never to the point of monotony.

The cascading beauty of the closer, “The Sound Of The Ground”, is a confluence of Pink Floyd, My Bloody Valentine, and explosive noiseworks that ebb and flow to form a funereal coda of massive proportions.

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