Post hardcore or any genre described with the word “post” has always, in my opinion, been a terrible label. The phrase itself implies the exact same genre only after the time period in which it was most popular. In general, there are much more creative ways to describe a sound.
Even so, there’s plenty of music that falls into this category including Sparrows‘ new album Let the Silence Stay Where It Was, released earlier this month. In an article from Substream Magazine, Frontman Dan Thomson reveals that the record is the product of a difficult year in 2015.
Considering Thomson’s words, I expected this Toronto quartet’s album to be full of guttural screams and unforgiving hardcore breakdowns. However, the opening track is rather clean. Three Four Two Five, Three Four Two Five starts off with a swell of ambient sound and the guitarist patiently plucking some perturbing notes. The foursome goes full blast after about 36 seconds. This song has a good amount of energy to it yet it lacks the growl and unrestraint that you might expect from listening to certain post-hardcore bands such as A Day to Remember. Thomson slightly screams during the chorus but it’s nothing overwhelming. Overall, a song that has teeth though the bite is not sharp enough to draw blood.
The Written Rules of Choking begins sounding dissonant and sludgy. The group loosely jams in the early sections and tightens up rhythmically as the song moves forward. When the track comes full circle, it becomes clear that these guys greatly understand each other and communicate well when it comes to making music.
During Carrying on with a Modern Lifespan, you can hear the song change direction multiple times. The groove remains consistent until just past the first minute, when the guitarist begins a thunderous phase of alternate picking. This only lasts a few bars and then drops off into a clean and soothing section that again doesn’t last long. Soon the band starts building back up to the speedy alternate picking. After all this chaos, the bass-driven intro returns. But there’s one more twist. The track closes with what sounds like a child banging away on a piano while watching cartoons, a strange and unexpected ending. Cave Eater was released as a single a few months back along with an instrument-smashing performance video. The song has the same subtle mix of gentleness and intense noise previously described.
The award for most haunting track goes to Waking the Red Sky Season. The lead guitarist’s alien-like note progression plays by it’s lonesome at the start. The rhythm section comes in to provide a leisurely tempo that unexpectedly speeds up. This one goes from soft ambient to ear-piercing alternative in little more than five minutes, a unique tune among the rest.
For fans of music sans vocals, Tinnitus is a brief instrumental with a sort of Shoegaze feel to it.
Given the name of the last two tracks, it may appear that these guys are taking a stance on religion. They both have references to the otherworldly in their lyrics. “While you piss on my grave, be sure to thank your God,” Thomson sings in Our Saviour Left Us for Dead. “On the way to the house that heaven built, I’ll assure you it won’t snow,” he says in Fire in the House of the Lord.
Some of the same techniques are employed on several of the songs. With that being said, Sparrows have definitely developed its own sound and that may be post hardcore if that’s what you want to call it. This music is a bit emo. So, that’s a more simple way to categorize it. Although, an even more simple and yet still accurate description would be to just call it rock.