The Ladderback
Trigger Themes
Bifocal Media
2002
C+

forging ahead in the wake of post rock, math rock, indie rock, and punk rock must be a hard thing to do for a band. Flying in the face of all that history- it takes a certain amount of arrogance to believe that any band adds a significant niche to the already brimming and overflowing pantheon of rock. What does it man, then, when a band perfectly utilizes already existing elements of previous genres that have already been done to death? Perhaps by drawing on all of these traditions in an interesting fashion the group becomes original in that way? The problem with this argument, of course, is that when the tunes outstrip the elements used in creating them the argument really doesn’t matter. If the songs are excellent, listeners care less who they copy off of.


In using a traditional hardcore framework for Trigger Themes, the group allows itself to use splashes of standard rock chord changes, angular math rock melodic counterpoints, and punk’s thrashy nihilism. The vocals even owe a vague debt to what has become known as emo- although they are far from recognizable most of the time. It is this willingness to take some of the finer elements of each particular genre into a greater whole that makes Trigger Themes such a success.


On the opening track, “Thieves in Saint’s Clothes”, the beginning of the record almost reminds one of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. A mood setting organ plays a melancholic melody while two guitars swirl around it attempting to find a common theme to hold onto. The guitars burst into unison after the organ smoothly leaves the song in the hands of a punishing rhythm track and guitar riff. The group is unafraid, however, to dissolve into chaos at anytime, marking their hardcore roots for anyone to see. This is tempered by a very prog-esque middle portion where the two guitars counterpoint against each other until the organ makes its triumphant return to the song.


In Trigger Themes, the Ladderback has constructed an exhausting 35 minute epic album. Despite its running time, the pace is so frenzied and chaotic that it seems like much longer. As said before, the framework for this record is within a hardcore template. Many different styles and genres make appearances, but never overstay their welcome. The one that perhaps does, however, is the template: hardcore. To fans of music that aren’t used to listening to yelled, unintelligible vocals, fast and chaotic guitar work, and a drum section that seems amphetamine fueled then this record will probably not appeal to them. If you are a fan of these things, though, and are looking for a group with obvious technical proficiency and a bit different stylistically, then this may be the release you’re looking for.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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