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Slow Motion Reign Review

by Travis Becker

The ancient Romans portrayed their god of doorways, Janus, as having multiple faces as he could look both before and after as the guardian of comings and goings. A Janus-like image adorns the cover the debut album by Slow Motion Reign, one of the first bands signed to System of a Down singer, Serj Tankian's Serjical Strike label. The painting also recalls the work of painter, Pablo Picasso. This contrast suits the music well, music that is at once classic and abstract, feeling both old and new at any given moment. Slow Motion Reign blend the dusty and the silicon-sheened in a textured mix of classic Prog and Pink Floyd space trips with subtly crafted modern Pop and Rock hooks and longing.

The opening track, "Twilight Skylight," spatters the listener with a barrage of rapid-fire, almost word-association type lyrics and a driving percussive intro before cascading into an ethereal ballad, with an undeniable hook in the chorus. Many of the songs on Slow Motion Reign make journeys such as this as they climb from gentle piano arrangement to soaring vocal and guitar crescendos. Miles away from the schizophrenic, politically-charged metal rants of their mentor's band, Slow Motion Reign send much more personal and intimate sound waves across the light years.

Keyboards and programming fill out the spacious arrangements, giving them a lush, deep, feel and the use of Rhodes and guitar together create the illusion of large string arrangements. Some of the songs recall the Verve without the forced focus on the vocals. Guitars still find room to travel in this vast outer space, though. "Via Satellite" and "Sea of Separation" both feature rangy solos which challenge basic tone and style. Some of the sounds coming from the speakers while this album plays echo the experimentalism of such post hardcore bands as the Dismemberment Plan and Chisel without the outright rebellion against convention found in those bands.

While remaining a focused album, a feat for which Tankian must be commended while dealing with a band that seems to be going so many directions with their sound, at times the songs stretch out a bit too much. Appropriate for the Space Rock genre into which the band is sometimes lumped, the extended songs still feel out of reach for a band with so many hooks. With the silky pop thread that seems woven into the songs, reining it in a bit may not have been a bad idea at times. Still, the songs do stay under the five minute mark so any spells of boredom are at least brief.

Porcupine Tree may provide the best point of reference for Slow Motion Reign. Heavy enough to be tolerable, but gentle and experimental at the same time. Strange and beautiful imagery in the vocals accents the atmospheric music, an effect perfected by Steven Wilson. While Serj won't be able to take Slow Motion Reign out with him on Ozzfest, this is a band that deserves an audience beyond the curious and…astronauts.

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Slow Motion Reign

Label:Serjical Strike Records, 2006

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