Review : ENVY -"Recitation"

Envy – Recitation
Release Date: 2010Oct12 (EU)
Label: Temporary Residence
Rating: 4.5/5

Envy‘s lethal combination of screamo hardcore and epic postrock hit me like a sledgehammer when I first discovered their landmark album, A Dead Sinking Story. I just couldn’t believe that I suddenly had found the bastard sons of Texans Explosions In The Sky and Swedish Refused. They exploded on my iPod with a wall of feeding guitars, intense roars and thundering drums. But I also quickly learnt that they controlled the quiet/loud dynamic better than most. Since that day, the Japanese band has been a important part of my record collection, returning to the turntable more often than not. So, it was with no small sense of expectations I put their new record on the stereo.

The album cover is a photo of a dry desert plain, the horizon the divider between the white surface and the darkened skies. I’m unsure as to whether the bands sees this as a visual description of their music’s dynamic, but it works nonetheless.  Envy easily switches between acoustic interludes and spoken-word ambience, to their furious hardcore sound.  The opening of the album is kind of a minor let-down; the spoken-word ofGuidance” works fine as a intro, but the following “Last Hours Of Eternity” feels like a song Mono could turn out in their sleep. However, when they include their trademark screams and thunder, everything starts to fall into place.

“Rain Clouds Running In A Holy Night” succeeds in fusing Mono‘s post rock with Envy‘s incendiary anger and a surprisingly upbeat feel. The band masters the art of epic rock songs without sounding like pretentious assholes, and the end result is songs which lift spirits and tear down depressive walls of despair. The next few fall into place as Envy songs; “Pieces Of The Moon I Weaved” and “Dreams Coming To An End” are all-out hardcore, while “Light And Solitude” explores the quiet/loud momentum.

The second half starts up with the acoustic interlude “Incomplete”, but the band are soon exploding out of the speakers with “Worn Heels And The Hands We Hold”—a real scorcher. The band crash like waves over the listener while Tetsuya Fukagawa roars, preaches and commands the sound. After this,A Hint And The Capacity” reveals Envy‘s softer side with a beautiful Japanese ballad (though ending in hardcore noise). The fourth quarter of the album ends Recitation in a fitting manner:  heavy, epic and drenched in sound. “A Breath Clad In Happiness” & “0 and 1” are both proof of why Mogwai signed the band to their label, Rock Action—they songs are tremendous proof of the band’s reputation. The first is harder and faster with a mellow center, while the second is a slow and melancholic doom masterpiece. “Your Hand” ends the way we began—with spoken-word ambience—leaving the listener fulfilled, yet empty.

There’s a rumour that Recitation is Envy‘s final album. If that is true, then this sadly leaves quite a bit to the listener’s imagination. They don’t reach previous peaks, though much of Recitation comes close. Fans of the band will undoubtedly enjoy this offering, but new listeners would be wise to check out their classic A Dead Sinking Story first.

Try: 3, 4, 8, 9, 1011

01. Guidance
02. Last Hours of Eternity
03. Rain Clouds Running in a Holy Night
04. Pieces of the Moon I Weaved
05. Light and Solitude
06. Dreams Coming to An End
07. Incomplete
08. Worn Heels and the Hands We Hold
09. A Hint and the Incapacity
10. A Breath Clad in Happiness
11. 0 and 1
12. Your Hand


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