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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Appleseed Cast -- Peregrine

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8/10
After the more conservative musical stylings of Two Conversations, The Appleseed Cast's fans begged for a return to the experimentation of the bands previous works. They definitely got that with Peregrine, one of the hardest to define works in The Appleseed Cast's catalog.
Peregrine starts off with a promisingly huge instrumental, a good sign for Low Level Owl fans. Things take an immediate left turn into the punk-infused "Woodland Hunter," half of the song only muted, rapidly strummed guitar and hushed vocals. "Here We Are (Family in the Hallways)" starts with a warmly acoustic feel, but closes with the most fuzzed-out sound The Appleseed Cast have ever attempted. "Silas' Knife" begins like an Appalachian folk song, but it too rocks out, then surprisingly goes into a quiet, accordian-led bridge before a more intense second half and ending. It's apparent from the first four tracks that attempting to predict what will happen next is absolutely useless--the next song, "Mountain Halo," is completely electronic, a new musical frontier for the band. All of this adds up to what is easily The Appleseed Cast's most diverse album to date.
New drummer, Nathan Richardson, does well at points to duplicate the classic Appleseed Cast drum sound while still maintaining his own personal style. It works for the most part, but isn't as distinctive as the licks previously laid-out by the departed (from the band, not life) Josh Baruth. The album is supposed to be a ghost story, and while this isn't easily apparent from the lyrics, the music is invaded by enough spooky sounds and foreign textures to make this clear. A great example is central track, and album standout, "February," which displays most of Peregrine's best musical elements.

This track is wisely followed by an instrumental, and an instrumental closes out Peregrine's second half as well, giving the album a subtly theatrical feel of opening titles, intermission and closing credits. While this gives the album a much appreciated cohesion, it also serves to make it a little cold and distant compared to the rest of The Appleseed Cast's rogues gallery. The heavy and easily identified emotion is farther back this time and slightly obscured by the experimentation instead of amplified by it--in simpler terms, Peregrine feels at times a little too calculated, and needs a bit more passion. That's a small mark against a very good album, though. Calculation does not equal predictability, and Peregrine is never predictable. This helps makes it a fine addition to The Appleseed Cast's expanding resume, though not the brightest mark on the page.

2006 Militia Muzik
1. Ceremony 4:17
2. Woodland Hunter, Pt. 1 3:16
3. Here We Are (Family in the Hallways) 3:40
4. Silas' Knife 4:08
5. Mountain Halo 4:09
6. Sunlit and Ascending 4:01
7. February 3:51
8. An Orange and a Blue 4:11
9. Song 3 5:00
10. Woodland Hunter, Pt. 2 4:30
11. Peregrine 4:06
12. A Fate Delivered 3:53
13. The Clock and the Storm 5:53

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