The Phoenix Rising rises out of the Chicago scene that’s rich in hardcore tradition (See Sevendayplague). But wait! It’s not hardcore. It’s a rock band, albeit one that has an uncommon sound. They also have a really cool name, unlike most bands today, who just have confusing ones that roll off the tongue well. This actually has meaning, in addition to the cool sound of it.
A thick, thundering noise comes bursting out of your speakers (or headphones) the second the music begins. The bass plays a huge part in this, driving the electronic-tinged sound to its max. I hesitate in saying this, but I think the bass is distorted. Anyway, the guitars that ride on this low end are reminiscent of The Benjamin Gate at times, and Say From Charms (if they went on a power trip) at others. This means that they can blast riffs like a cannon but are highly capable of a melodic, note-intensive structure on top of it. The two guitars do this quite often, alternating between the chugging and the delicate picking. The short but packed opener “Mid-July” is a prime example of their vocals: high, but not punkishly high vocals sung to a haunting melody that fits like a puzzle piece. It works beautifully. Sadly, they do have moments (even a whole song: “Transmission to the Stars”) where they apply the negatives of that last phrase: whiny, high vocals turning out a bland melody that doesn’t fit with the overall song. They use piano occasionally, just like everyone else these days, and while it isn’t bad, it doesn’t really contribute much either. They also can mellow out, and (in contrast to the last element) it’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. Their closer “The Masquerade” blends this mellow, laidback feel with the rock base, creating a track that’s better than most on the album. It still can’t hold a candle to “Mid-July”, but it’s good.
Altogether, this CD is a good length. It’s just long enough that their style is presented, fleshed out, and enjoyed without getting repetitive. Unfortunately, I do see a high amount of opportunities for this to become repetitive. It will be interesting to see how they navigate a full-length release. But for now, this CD is great, and it gives “The Phoenix Rising” a bad name. And that’s because this CD doesn’t rise out of your player for a long time. It’s not so much because of the melodies (which stick in your head a little), but because of the innovative guitar work, which will draw you back again and again and again.