Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Effort - Demo Sessions

I was pretty excited to hear some new The Effort material, especially after the success and power on their previous records. Drawing obvious comparisons to contemporaries like Verse or Have Heart, but carving out their own niche in the straightedge hardcore scene, they appealed to me since the first EP. Bringing clear influences from older acts like Ten Yard Fight and adding in their own, youthful voice created a whirlwind of passion in their lyrics and sound, with strong convictions I can respect. When Wear Your Heart dropped, I went almost a little overboard I was so into it, and now have over 10 different versions of the EP from Words of War Records. Record nerdery aside, I can't help but feel somewhat shortchanged by this demo, as if I was ready to explode but left blueballed instead.

While this is still just a demo precursor to the upcoming LP on Panic, the overall feel and quality of this release doesn't seem on par with the rest of their records. The Effort set the bar pretty high with the debut LP Iconoclasm, and From Our Mistakes quickly continued the trend. It took a few listens for these three tracks to grow on me, which never happened with their other releases. The initial turnoff was the overpowering vocals that burst onto the initial song, "Counting with the Shepards." Of course this isn't going to be completely mixed for a demo but the lead guitars and melody are lost under the grinding vocals, sounding more like the singer from Swamp Thing and making it nearly impossible to understand anything without straining your ears.

The vocals seem to come a bit more under control on the other two songs, "1958" and "To the Top, All the Way." Their sound is still there, as they create a nice rhythm on "1958" with clean guitar work during the opening, breaking into medium-tempo verses. The final song has some fantastic energy, but quickly trickles down to a slow outro with the singer Tony screaming inaudibly in the background. From what I can tell, the lyrical value is still there, but I haven't been able to read them yet as the preorders won't ship until early March. The tension filled melodies, gang vocals, and overall effect found on past songs like "And to Think" or "Black Sheep" just doesn't quite appear to be there.

This isn't one of the worst things I've heard this year, but it's definitely far from the best. Maybe my standards were set a little too high from their past records, and I couldn't help but demand something better. Even still, support this band and check out their new material for yourself before deciding whether or not they've lost their touch. There are some bright spots on this cloudy performance, but it fails to generate the enthusiasm I anticipated. No matter what, I'll still be awaiting their LP this summer; maybe the warmer weather will put me in a better mood.