Album Title: 
The Beast Of Left And Right
Release Date: 
Monday, July 14, 2014
Review Type: 

Based in Athens near Atlanta, Georgia, this band was formed in 2006 as a quintet including vocalist Jimmy Baldwin, guitarists Robert Sullivan and Bryan Aiken, bassist Sean Pfeiffer and then-drummer Mathius. They soon recorded and released their demo Demo-Lition, and enjoyed local success as a gleefully violent Metal act within the skeptical microcosm of the then-reigning Indie Rock scene. The city's Flagpole Magazine even nominated the band as “Best Up & Coming Band”...all in the same year!

But change was on-coming, as first Sullivan left the fold, and then Baldwin was stricken with a throat pocked with polyps. But although reparative surgery saved his vocal chords, the affliction eventually effectively ended Baldwin's role as the band's frontman, and the remaining trio found themselves having to do without their chosen genre's staples of harsh voices and dual guitars. So, the guys reworked their existing material to a more instrumental type of music (in which vocals would occasionally occur, but usually in the background), and in doing so the guys added new layers to their already existing sound. You've heard of the expression, “Less is More”? In the case of L/W, that certainly became a fact, as what could've been a void, wasn't, and made the remaining parts than much more the trimmed-down line-up allowed the individual members to have a better internal communication, allowing for seemingly uncomfortable stints into other musical styles, while at the same time pleasing each member's individual musical preferences! The new L/W gained a lot more fans, some of which might've turned their heads to the band it its beginning days, and in June of 2008 Flagpole Magazine named L/W “Band Of The Year”, far above the then reigning Indie Rock and Pop artists!

Reflecting the band's music, L/W named its debut album The Void That Isn't, and soon after its release (Dec. 2009) fell into another void, as the necessity arose to replace the drummer. The two-year search for a proper replacement (which effectively delayed the album's promotion) ended when they found Jazz drummer Brad Rice. With this prolific man in place, the trio was able to venture out in even more strange territories, which according to the bio on the band's own website (www.) saw them “...shed the security of genre conventions in favor of creative curiosity and more honest and emotional song-writing, growing increasingly toward the likes of Dysrhythmia, Don Caballero and Battles, while firmly rooted and informed by its Thrash and Prog-Metal origins...”! Sounds lice, uh? And the band already brought a nice display of what that means on their second release, the 4-track EP There Was A Hole There. It's Gone Now, which was released (both on 10-inch vinyl and as a Collector's Edition painted cassette & tarot cards cassette – latter two versions both sold out, vinyl and download still available via Bandcamp) in April of 2012! Along the way, the band's music found fans in such interesting people as comedian Brian Posehn and Pop icon Lady Gaga!

When the band eventually got contacted by the people at Retro Futurist (a label erected by the core members of Heavy Rock/ Psych/ Metal act Kylesa with the intent to promote young and promising talent while also offering the musicians a friendly home) for a recording deal, the opportunity came for the band members to become professional musicians. Working on the material for the new album [which was recorded & produced by Kylesa's Phillip Cope with assistant engineering from one Jay Matheson (and now where have I come across that name before?) at Columbia, SC's Jam Room Recording Studio] made the guys aware of the fact that this choice would mean to walk away in some way from their loved ones...and so the album itself became about choices, about standing in the center and choosing a direction, yes or no, black or white...and that there is no wrong choice if that is taken honestly.

To communicate the idea, the guys made the entire album symmetrical; some songs are other songs backwards (such is the case with the opening and closing tracks : they use the exact same chords, riffs and drum tracks, but one is played in minor and the other in major – regrettably, that's the only example given), others respond musically or lyrically to the song across from it (another sample of that symmetrical view on the album may be in the fact that the second track and the second to last one are both new versions of songs which originally closed the band's debut album, as demo versions...yet another “symmetrical” balance lies in the fact that on 4 songs the choice was made to use vocals, where as on the 4 others the choice was not to)! But enough about the awkwardness of the construction of the album, because the music itself is what we should be talking about, a task difficult enough, as you might've come to fathom by now! You see, the band has in the past been described in such different ways as “a Funk group with Thrash roots”, or “Jazz trio with Sludge issues”...but the truth is that the trio goes beyond those limiting descriptions! When willing, they'll throw in a very MathCore-like track, and individual influences can change within a song within the time of a heartbeat! Eventually, there's but óne good way to discuss this band's music, and that's after having given their music a series of listening sessions. Whether or not one decides, after such a lavish exposure to the band's exhilarating music, to actually start talking about it, or stop losing time to give it another listening, is one of those choices, which might well have been touched on in The Beast Of Left And Right!

What with the download promo of the album being pushed upon me at a period in my life that I had to focus on quite a lot of other things than music journalism, it took some time before this review came to be (also because other releases got priority), and therefore I'm far too late to announce that the band was touring Europe with Kylesa during June and July of last! With no Euro tours coming up any time soon, us people on this side of the Atlantic will have to make due with what material is available on the Internet, to get acquainted with the band. For some videos, check out the “Profile” section at (www.) In the “Store” section of the same site, you'll get re-directed to the band's page on Bandcamp! Meanwhile...can I?...just state that I've found yet another album to add to my 2014 year-lists?...and that I've added the band to my all-time favourites?