Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Inhale Exhale. Movement.

Inhale Exhale.  Movement.
Red Cord Records, 2012.  Inhale Exhale: https://www.facebook.com/inhaleexhale  

With their fourth and final album released, Cleveland-born Inhale Exhale departs the music world, leaving behind their goodbye gift to fans and foes alike with Movement, a ten track LP that is very much what you would expect from this crew in terms of total length and subject matter if you know their history. As for my impression, I found it to be one that proved to be an enjoyable enough release, one that grows on your over time. But would I tell a friend to go out and buy it if they were looking for something to play on a road trip or on loop while they hit the gym? Sure, since Movement definitely has its merits.

It's a decent album but is also, to be truthful, my least favorite of any that Inhale Exhale ever put out, feeling kind of thin when compared to the others, with notable departures in terms of structural decisions and overall polish. I guess what I've noticed with some artists is that they have a tendency to sound more produced as they progress, which can be a pitfall, but with Movement the problem isn't that so much as the lack of mystique that made up the earlier material. There was a kind of biting energy in their second album I Swear... that I couldn't find with some of these songs and for a group that I knew had it in them to bring those kind of sensations out of their souls and into your ears it was surprising to be so underwhelmed at times.

By far what I noticed to be most different from previous creations were these sudden shifts that happened at the end of certain songs that really mellowed out so much that I thought the track was over and a new one was getting started. I don't think I was going through some sort of grandpa-like psychosis when perceiving this transition since it was there each time I listened. Definitely don't remember this happening on the albums The Lost. The Sick. The Sacred, or Bury Me Alive (both of which were terrific releases) but it occurs several times on this album, feeling like a little island of the song was left over and just kind of floating there at the end, as though you swim to it and get an earful of what's left of the piece. "Ain't No Trip To Cleveland" uses this to good effect and treats you to the best guitar work of the whole album, in my opinion, a cool way to end a good song so emphasized by its isolated finish, comparable to something you might hear from the band Thrice.

There's plurality in the lyrics that, while a tad trite, make them pliable to ponder, with verses like "Face now the value of your heart (x2), Awakening is in the eyes of the beholder" followed by my favorite guitar riff of the album, and having the potential to work with different veins of interpretation, be they secular or sectarian. The influence of faith is active in select places among the words and imagery, such as when singer Ryland Raus sings in the track "Mirage in the Middle of Summer" and through his shredded slash of a yell exclaims "Let light be your guide" to the listener. It's a kind of a reference that's fairly easy to place, eh? Not all rock acts are capable of interweaving their spiritual beliefs and their musical aspirations together without coming off as hokey or artificially preachy (if Pat Robertson started a metalcore band it would probably be that way), but Inhale Exhale managed to do so as seamlessly and tactfully as Underoath and Norma Jean.

If you only have money to purchase one album from the departed band known as "Inhale Exhale" getting one of the earlier three would be a better investment since I found them to be more enjoyable than Movement as a whole. Metalcore as a genre has its detractors and snobs but when it comes down to it the guttural screams and contrasting elegant vocals played off one another deserve respect, either variety of singing not being easy to pull off. While it's a shame Inhale Exhale didn't hold together to put out more content what they've left behind is worth giving a listen and perhaps even playing during a late night drive to Sheetz.  

Personnel: Ryland Raus (Vocals), John LaRussa (Guitars), Tony Saffell (Drums), and Greg Smith (Bass).
Tracks: Aesthetics, Party Drama, A Poise for Poison, Mirage in the Middle of Summer, The Collectors, Low, Carpe Diem, Ain't No Trip to Cleveland, See You Later, Under the Sheets Stained in Blood.

Robert Gojo

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