Seattle rockers close in on exceeding their influences across a fine second set.
Mike Diver 2011-08-22
Seattle’s Nazca Lines are the kind of band best sold on their associations and influences, rather than their original material – not because what the four-piece play is lacking in any respect, but simply because the company the quartet keeps is fine indeed.
Recorded by Matt Bayles, whose credits include collections by Isis and Mastodon, this second long-player has earned itself a UK release via the Stressed Sumo label, established by Therapy? drummer Neil Cooper. Artwork and additional guitar comes from former Blood Brothers/Jaguar Love member Cody Votolato (who appeared on the recent long-play set from Hyro Da Hero), and the group’s sound owes much to the post-hardcore melodies of Hot Snakes and said act’s forerunners Drive Like Jehu, as well as all-time classic outfits like At the Drive-In and Fugazi. With that sort of on-paper clout behind Hyperventilation, it seems destined for cult status amongst certain crowds. And the on-record material doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Frontman Cory Alfano’s gruff vocals are typical of the genre in question, but his committal is unquestionable – chemists around Seattle’s Red Room studios must have had a run on lozenges while this album was being recorded. The interplay between Brett Wedeking’s lead guitar lines and the solid foundations of bass and drums – from Ryan Minch and Andy King respectively – is accomplished enough to have Nazca Lines quite immediately standing out from their densely packed hardcore crowd. This is powerful fare, but not without accessible riffs and vocal lines that stick in the memory. Highlights include the venomously delivered but heavy of heart Bones in Boxes – key lyric: "Diamonds are forever / You’re not" – and the percussively rambunctious The Ghost, which is sure to remind many a listener of a heavier Braid: it’s just as infectious as one of Bob Nanna’s finest cuts.
If there’s a problem to be found with Hyperventilation, it’s that it doesn’t really relent until its final track – a breather just isn’t an option until then (perhaps explaining the album’s title). New Volume is a great climax though, showcasing a softer side to this otherwise hard-edged combo – it still cuts deep with passion, but the delivery is slowed enough for the colours in this band’s make-up to be displayed clearly. Smudge-free and stripped of feedback, and with a piano in tow, it’s here that they come closest to exceeding the weighty expectations their influences and associations inevitably produce.