Iseah‘s EP Black Lungs & Bitter Tongues brings an intensity so unusually sharp it should come with a warning label of some kind. Perhaps Do not listen to unless other modern hard-rock bands bore you would be appropriate. In a genre that has become the new least-common-denominator form of rock music–let’s face it, it’s easier to scream than sing and easier to look cool playing guitars in drop chords–Iseah distinguishes itself by being a band that plays with genuine ability–and genuine aggression. Without intending to resort to rock cliche, every instrument sounds weapon-like.
Singer Matt Slone sings well, but he screams with almost jolting ferocity. “Sweet Talkers”–what an ironic name–will leave you convinced he hates you, and the scream of “this could be our last day” near the end of “Making Widows Out Of Wives” carries as much conviction as it does menace. The band matches him stride for stride in intensity, but does so smartly. This isn’t faster-louder-harder-heavier; the band has a good ear for pace and orchestrates its songs for dramatic effect. Witness Andrew Baker‘s drumming midway through “Seasick Down South,” where he punctuates tense pauses with blasts on the kit.
Lyrically, the songs seem to aim for the epic, something Black Lungs & Bitter Tongues would seem to back up with its antique-painting-meets-Medusa (wait till you flip it open) cover art. “Making Widows Out Of Wives,” “A Burial Fit For A Sailor” and “Caught In the Current” sound at times like a three-song story arc of men doomed in battle and praying (literally) for a swift end, even if that end is death. Combined with the music, it’s a heady listen, the sort of music that sounds borne from playing in a room lit only by a lone swinging lightbulb. It’s among the best hard rock to come from Springfield in some time, and it just might keep you up at night a little later than you had planned if you listen to it in the dark. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Check out Iseah on their MySpace page http://www.myspace.com/iseah. The band is currently on a summer tour including the famed Cornerstone music festival.