Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Maths - Ascent

Maths' first full length Descent was one of the best albums of 2009 and was overlooked by, well, everyone. On Descent, Maths managed to cram more emotion into thirty minutes of energetic screamo than should be possible. Here Maths return, a year and a half later, with a follow up EP to Descent with the tracks having been written at the same time and carrying on with similar themes and ideas.

Descent was very typical of the screamo genre and didn't do anything that hadn't been done before. It contrasted anger with beauty, fury with melody and hatred with self-loathing. What it did to, however,  was to be a more polished and melodic piece than the frantic sound of their predecessors and obvious influences such as Orchid while not incorporating as much post-rock or ambient influences like many of their modern counterparts like Envy. This created a sound which, while nothing new, was well and truly their own.

Being a follow up to and having been written at the same time as Descent the tracks here are, as would be expected, very similar to their counterparts off that album. In fact, these songs all feel like they would have fit perfectly on that album. While this would be disappointing in most cases, there are far worse debuts to sound like and, with this just being tagged as a follow up EP, a radical shift in direction was not expected. In fact, you would expect this album to sound like a collection of leftovers from the Descent writing process but it actually includes some of Maths' finest moments to date. It would, however, be nice to here more progression in the next release by Maths. Especially seeing as when Maths' draw the furthest away from their original sound on closer The Wind Swept Away, it is this EP's finest moment and shows that Maths have potential to do something really special with their next release.

That does not mean that everything is the same though. The vocals have improved greatly in technicality and production this time around. While this would be expected to take away from the emotion and feel of a band like Maths, it leads to more range in emotion in the vocals. The production hasn't just been improved on the vocals but across the board as well. You'd also expect this to drag Maths down, with the muddied production on Descent adding so much atmosphere to the sound but it helps Maths build up the dynamics which their sound is so reliant on.

As is to be expected if you are knowledgeable in screamo or have heard Descent, Ascent is a short listen. Being a mere eleven minutes long, shorter than a lot of songs out there, Maths do not have a lot of time on this. However, the songs on here, like Descent, stream in to each other with it being difficult at times to know when one has started and the other ended. This stream of sound helps make Ascent feel like a full piece of work even if it is only eleven minutes long. And what a fine piece of work at that.

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