I’m conflicted. There is this sweet denim vest at Old Navy. Stonewashed with rivet-pockets, fringed collar, blue corduroy trim, the whole nine. There is also this awesome espresso maker at Williams-Sonoma that is pretty pricey, but dang. It’s got a built-in burr grinder, two pumps and a milk steamer, and it’s a total low-pressure, pre-infusion model. This thing is macked out.
What to do. What to do.
If I go with the vest, I save some money, I’ll look seriously dope come spring – especially if I wear it without a shirt – and I can stash my celly in the breast pocket, ridding me of that unsightly rectangular bulge on my right buttock. Win-win-win.
If I purchase the espresso machine, I’ll have to lay off the MMA Pay-Per-View parties for a few months, as I always host them (negative cash flow) and provide the munchies, too. But dang, that fresh-spress!
Maybe while I think about it, I’ll listen to the new CD by Jacksonville metal quintet A Matter of Honor, an album that has me as conflicted as the vest-versus-espresso conundrum. There’s a lot to like about Everyday Without A Purpose. But there’s a lot that has me grimacing as well.
Good stuff first…
I get the feeling that this band is sincere. And that’s to their credit, considering their chosen genre – what I’ll call “epic metal” – is littered with poseurs. This is not to say Everyday … is not littered with clichés, but the band throws in a few curve balls that, on balance, make some of the album’s trite elements palatable.
First, the laudable Piper Coverdill sets A Matter of Honor apart. Though the band opts for some growly bullshit backgrounds now and again (enough of this already, metalheads), Coverdill’s lilting vocals are a welcome change. At times, the band overpowers her, which could easily be blamed on the mix, or the lack of much-needed harmony arrangements, which would have lifted the vocals above the muck. But kudos to Coverdill for actually singing her parts. More metal bands should do this, rather than trying to frighten everyone with their macho posturing.
It must also be noted that amid the predictable metal are some delightfully original moments. Track 3, “Dethroned,” features a funky little bridge that, removed from the genre, would certainly get some booties moving. Track 4, “Entwined,” is a beautifully quiet piece, pivoting on an interesting narrative and a dark melody. (Could do without the passing ambulance sound effect, but that’s nitpicking, innit?) “Recovery” bleeds the same vein, a soft, acoustic 6/8 bringing in harmonized backgrounds. And here Coverdill’s vocals sit perfectly in the mix, backed by mandolins and banjos. She shines here. The band should incorporate this in their heavier tunes, and really push themselves into an area of unexplored, original metal.
OK, now the downsides…
Musically, the majority of this record sounds just like all the other epic metal bands out there. Impossibly huge guitars, harmonized leads that we’ve heard a million times before. And those goddamned clicky bass drums. When are metal drummers going to stop triggering their bass drums and get back to the natural, powerful kick drum sound that drummers like Anthrax’s Charlie Benante worked so hard to achieve naturally? That guy had some of the fastest feet in the business, and he didn’t need samples to articulate his blast patterns. He just played hard and let the drums speak for themselves.
The saddest aspect “Everyday Without a Purpose” is that Coverdill’s voice is not used to its fullest potential. Again, this has to do with its placement in the mix – way up front, very dry, no harmonic support – but also with Coverdill’s youth. I think, over time, and with a lot of work, she can complement her lilt and grace with power and conviction. In other words, her Harriet Wheeler could use a little Wendy O.
So I vacillate. Caught in a troubling place, and I just can’t make up my mind…
Do I go with the vest, or the espresso machine?