5/9/2008 - Review by: David Loveless
One of the best things about doing a CD reviews is that you give listeners a chance to experience new music by (sometimes) making comparisons to other bands of the same genre. This usually gives the CD more credibility and chances are listeners may pick it up if compared to other bands that they like. More often than none, I am able to make those kinds of comparisons, but with JR Ewing, the method of band comparisons is impossible to use. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, JR Ewing has ultimately been characterized as hardcore punk/screamo (although some of their earlier works can be credited to the noisecore scene). However, after listening to their third full length album, Maelstrom, I cannot honestly associate JR Ewing with any of the above mentioned genres. The only genre that even comes close is maybe Post-Hardcore, although their sound is much bigger and more mature than just that one category alone. Maelstrom presents a whirlwind ride through 10 rocking tunes that are memorable and unlike anything out on the scene today. Mixing elements of hardcore, metal, prog-rock, and rock, JR Ewing have created a masterpiece that can be easily accessible for a vast audience.
The first song, Change Is Nothing (Everything Is), is a great album opener with great guitar hooks and a catchy chorus. In parts, influences of early Janes Addiction and Glassjaw can be heard. The next song, For We Are Dead, is one of my favorite songs on the album with its modern post-hardcore sound and clean vocals. With another catchy chorus and a very solid Bass performance, this song shows JR Ewing at their best. The third song, Nihilistic Elitist, has a great melodic intro before the screams kick in, along with some grim guitar riffs. The fourth song, Take A Hint, in parts sound like it could be taken off of Voivod's 1993 release, The Outer Limits. The vocals range from harmonized clean vocals to screamo-style. Next comes Fucking & Champagne. With a lighter, more melodic approach, this song shows another side of JR Ewing that is just as appealing as their heavier songs. Insect Intercourse is a faster piece with clean vocals and plenty of melody. It also offers (in parts) a more strait-edge metal approach, showing a diversity that is only matched by their creativity. The seventh song, Floodlight, starts off with some soft guitar strumming and then soon kicks into an awesome time signature (often used by the Police on their late 80's material). The eights song, I'm Sorry, You're Sorry, We're All Sorry, is a fast hardcore punk number with a mix of punk-style and clean vocals. The song also offers some great melodies in the chorus part. The ninth song, Pitch Black Blonde, is a great post-hardcore number with touches of progressive drumming and awesome vocal parts. The final song on Maelstrom is the melodic Here I Vanish. With lush guitar tones (in part) and raging vocals, this is a well-rounded song that sums up the excellent work of JR Ewing.
Who says that all good music that comes from Norway is Black Metal? JR Ewing has easily proven that other genres of music from Norway can be noticed on an international level. For those of you that are new to the JR Ewing experience, Maelstrom is definitely the album that you'll want to get. Usually when I am done reviewing a CD, I delete it from my iPod - to make room for other review material. However, there have been several occasions where the album was so good; it stayed on for additional listens. JR Ewing's Maelstrom will definitely have a home on my iPod for a while!
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