Having carved a comfortable niche in the San Francisco Bay Area, by playing shows almost constantly for three or so years, Under A Dying Sun have created an album that breaks away from their original "emocore" sound, which judging by their last full-length, they have clearly out-grown. Instead of rehashing the same, tired, "screamo" formula with heavy melodramatics and melodic breakdowns, they have put out an album that does not shy away from the sincerity of the earlier material, but instead molds it into a refreshingly new entity. Simply speaking, they have thrown away the EMO and but held on to the EMOTION.
It was trying to keep with this "mid-90's post-hardcore" sound that made last year's self-titled release a bust. In attempting to maintain a sound they had reached their prime with, and had thus tired out with their series of seven inches and the Hangman's Day EP, Under a Dying Sun tried to give fervor to an old sound and ended up creating an album that did not meet expectations.
On Supernova, the guitar work has become a lot more polished and cohesive. Dan Africa and Konane Cramer maintain a complexity that had always been present in their music, but this album does not have the same twinkly melodies with one lead and one rhythm guitar. Africa and Cramer now both play prominent parts, working off each other establishing a new angular, captivating and much more interesting sound and structure. The bass has also taken a much more prominent direction on this album with Shaye Farwell leading the songs into rhythmic breakdowns.
The most prominent and impressive aspect of Under a Dying Sun's new sound is Jay Anderson's drumming. Adding restraint to his once chaotic and unrelenting drumming, he has successfully built a style that is unique and adds a new element to the music. Where the guitar work has been worked into a polished complexity, Anderson's improvisational, but well-placed combination of minimalism and motion between loud and soft keeps you guessing and, in turn, surprised. Whether it's incorporating rim clicks, bells, or opened and closed hi-hats, Anderson utilizes his stripped down drum set like none other. He plays intense intros like that on the title-track and works quick and original fills into the breakdowns to produce a unprecedented style that gives Supernova its unique character.
Where restraint is lacking, though, is in Macklan Clendenin's vocals. His voice is an acquired taste, but even with familiarity, they can at times become a little bit overwhelming. The vocal abilities are there: he can sing in different keys, hold lines and of course, scream. However, where it fails is in the metrical structure of his lyrics that does not fit with the tempo and time signature changing instrumentations.
Yet, with all these elements combined, Under a Dying Sun have put these songs eight songs together in a unique structure and new direction that manages to keep the band moving with a passion they have laid down since the beginning but also an infusion of new styles. The album's intensity, beauty and honesty create a refreshing new sound in the music scene, whether it is local, national or international.
8.0 / 10
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