CD Review: The Reptilian– We Have Become EP
Detroit Chic Rating: **** (4)/5
Based Out Of: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Track Titles/Run Lengths (Total Length: 16:40)
1. The One Thing I Could Never Stomach About Santa Carla Was All The Damn Vampires; 4:26
2. I Sure Hope Ving Rhames Isn’t In This One; 4:09
3. Neptune or Mars…or Neptune; 3:11
4. Lets Slip Away Under Cover Of Afternoon In The Biggest Car In The County; 4:54
(All pictures courtesy of The Reptilian)
The Reptilian, an ambient/progressive rock/hardcore Kalamazoo standout recently featured in a concert review at Detroit Chic , just released a new EP title “We Have Become”, which we had the privilege of reviewing. The price is a very standard $5 per copy, which boils down to about $1 a song, a pretty fair price, in our mind.
Overall the album will be very pleasing to fans of the band, and holds some surprises in store for them. For those who haven’t heard The Reptilian live, I suggest you do so, but picking up the EP is a pretty good way to get acquainted with some of the band’s better material, and offers some unique advantages, which I’ll mention in a minute.
I have to admit, before I even gave the album a listen, I had a good impression of it from the cover art. I know, I know, “Never judge a book by its cover”, etc., etc. However, a) My current art fetish is geometric patterns/shapes (the cover art pictures a series of multicolor boxes overlapping) b) You have to appreciate a little more the art quality on a local album with interesting cover art, made by local artists, likely working for free, as opposed to rather nice looking cover art of records on major labels, who spend large sums on the art and simply contract some anonymous artist.
Pictured: The cover art, hand drawn by a local artist, is pretty cool, and foreshadows the standout record.
Anyways, I liked the art, which either was pastel or watercolor (it was hard to tell for sure) and its vibrant and earthy feel. It sort of reminds me of the Detroit Chic logo, which definitely is nice.
Enough about the art, though let’s talk about the album itself. All the song titles are excessively long in length, which seems to be coming into vogue these days.
Pictured: The back, complete with track listing. Tracks 2 and 4 are real standouts in my opinion.
The first track “The One Thing I Could Never Stomach About Santa Carla Was All The Vampires” worried me just a bit. Don’t get me wrong, The Reptilian‘s signature reverby guitar was definitely there, but the recording quality was a bit muddy and the vocals were drowned out.
Fortunately the next track, “I Sure Hope Ving Rhames Isn’t In This One” (ISHVRIITO) more than makes up for any shortcomings of the previous track. While the vocals are still lower volume than the instrumentals, they are significantly crisper, and audible. Further, the track features some really outstanding drumming courtesy of Dan Riehl, something I didn’t really initially pick as a strong point of the band during their live show.
This won’t be an incredible shock to fans, but I think it will be a pleasant surprise. The drum breakdowns are definitely a real treat. Also, I started to pick up on the quality of the second rhythm-oriented guitar on this track as well. And of course, Russ Wagner, the stand-out guitarist of the band had some sweet guitar lines in the mix.
I’d say “ISHVRIITO”, as it could be called for short, is the EP’s stand out track and makes the CD worth your $4 on its own. If the band has a song that could be classified as “hit material”, this surely would be it.
The next song “Neptune Or Mars… Or Neptune”, while slightly less catchy instrumentally and vocally continued the higher quality. It was a bit different in that it was slower at parts and had more changes of tempo incorporated into it. Also incorporated were sort of shouting chants by the band. For those unfamiliar with vocal style, The Reptilian, despite sounding metal/hardcore in their instrumentals at times, chiefly eschews screaming for a mixture of singing and shouting chants. This stylistic decision isn’t necessarily good or bad, but I have to say it does help destinguish the band from your typical basement hardcore act.
The final track on the album, the mouthful “Let’s Slip Away Under Cover Of Afternoon In The Biggest Car In The County” (LSAUDOAITBCITC… okay maybe the acronym is a bit pointless…), is a close second favorite of mine. The rollicking cheer at the start “I ain’t nobodies baby!” catches the listener’s ear. From there on the band breaks down into many sweet guitar licks and pulsing drum lines. Again, the drum lines really stood out. I don’t know what exactly The Reptilian did during their recording of their EP drum-wise, but they definitely should do it again, next time.
In all the four song EP’s only real fault would be that it leaves you wanting more. However, this is just one more reason why you should pick up the record, give it a listen, and support the band in its live shows– in hopes that they get signed and put together a full length sometime soon.
For fans of The Mars Volta, Cursive, Liars, and other ambient/progressive/hardcore acts, The Reptilian‘s material should be sweet noise to your ears. For those with open minds, the disc promises to intrigue as well. I encourage you to check it out and support the band.
To give the tracks a listen, to decide if you might want to pick it up, just trek on over to the band’s homepage:
You’ll be glad you did!