Is this the band that released Soft Skeletons? Its been 3 years, and clearly the band has opted to go in a different direction. While the band has never hidden their affinity for The Who, naming themselves after a 1968 song by the group, When I Am Gone My Blood Will Be Free takes their influence to the next level.
The jangly guitars with dance punk undertones are replaced on When I Am Gone with big guitars, epic structures, and Nathan Lilleys wailing vocals. Called To the Throne wastes no time establishing the tone, with a minute drum intro and no vocals at all until the minute-and-a-half mark, when a yelp is quickly followed by the albums first lyrics. After spending so much time on the big intro, the 3:37 songs feels disproportionately short, but otherwise this is a pure slab of anthemically-minded arena rock. The style is best achieved in the lacking-in-punctuation titular track, which uses a call and response chorus that rises to a celebratory message of My blood will be free. In the next song, Pure Shit, the guitars remind of Soft Skeletons, but they are pushed back in the mix, bringing Shane Hochstetlers driving beats and Lilleys vocals up front. Just in case the prog, 70s feel hasnt gotten through yet, this is followed with The Fog, a rising action exercise in the gradeur, which is peppered in lucid foggy imagery fitting to its title.
What sets When I Am Gone apart from its influences is mostly a matter of timing. These songs may be long in the punk world, but only two of the nine songs here top five minutesthe dramatic tone is just thatit seeks the anthemic over the epic. Sure, there are even a couple of Zeppelin-esque blues riffs in Old Cactus but, ultimately, the band is contemporary and Lilley is no Pete Townsend (perhaps for the best).
When I Am Gone may have taken a long time to reach its listeners, and it brings a different sound than previous release. The driving rock is sometimes fun, especially in the middle of the record, but it is a style that has already played out. Ultimately, the record just feels too derivative.
6.5 / 10
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