I have to say that it’s been quite some time since I’ve reviewed a band so definitively political. It’s kind of refreshing in a strange sort of way. Regardless, when I started listening to Staring Into Nothing’s latest album ‘Power‘, I have to admit that I was very surprised by both the sound and the quality of it. There was something epic about the composition of the opening track ‘Puritans‘ that certainly caught my attention, with its grand piano and funky The Wall’ sort of reminiscence. It got me fired up and pulled me in at the same time. When the vocals came in I was taken slightly back, but it didn’t take long for me to accept them as part of the overall flavour that is Staring Into Nothing…or as I might enjoy playing around with the idea of calling them…SIN.
I’ve played around with sin for a long time (having been raised Catholic) so I understand a lot about what SIN is talking about with regards to tyranny and oppression. And that is what this album is all about. Specifically, this latest album is “…a dark, artistic exploration of corruption, abuse, and oppression.” And when you listen to the music and lyrics, that is exactly what you get. It’s something special these days to actually get what’s advertised.
That being said, I don’t want to start in by saying that the lyrics seem a bit simple but…well, actually, that’s exactly what they are. But given what I perceive the message of this band being, it makes perfect sense that they don’t use any level of “double-speak” in their delivery. The simplicity of the lyrics allows the listener to truly understand every aspect of what this band stands for and against. It’s simple and straightforward, very much like the way they advertise the concept of this album.
Slightly off topic from the details of the music itself for a moment, I have this deep feeling that lead vocalist and keys player Steve Rogers (no, he’s not Captain America…so far as I know), is both well-read and a bit of a nerd. There is a lot of imagery and influence both direct and indirect, pulled from the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and George Orwell. Certainly, an interesting combination that makes perfect sense when you take the image of Sauron’s myopic view of the world and couple it with Big Brother’s constant surveillance. It’s a very intriguing match to make and certainly draws me more into the music, given that I am certainly a nerd and a fan of dystopian novels like 1984. If you listen carefully and hear a few choice names, you’ll also get a bit of a history lesson in deception and corruption. You’d have to know the people mentioned or at least be able to consult with Dr. Google to find out the deeper meaning of the otherwise clear lyrics.
To the music itself now, there is a wonderful quality that runs through the album, but each track is exquisitely unique. Sure, each harnesses the throughline of tyranny and torment and manages to take a dark turn here and there, but there is occasionally a light that illuminates the shadows this trio sing so vehemently about. There are some beautiful harmonies throughout the album and a very exciting vocal intro to the final track ‘Gates Of Hell‘, which also has a really interesting 80′s quality to it that makes me smile in a very genuine way.
There is some wonderful guitar thanks to the handiwork of Savannah Rogers and it really helps to elicit a more emotional response to some of the songs than might otherwise be expected. There are just instances where the guitar slides into such a beautiful phrase or moment in a song. And then there are other times where the guitar crunches a part of a song and then goes on a scintillating rant of nerve-tingling notes. Wonderful.
Perhaps my favourite track on the album would have to be ‘Towers (I. Ecstacy / II. Agony)‘ (notice the Two Towers reference here). It is an eighteen-minute epic that strongly features Savannah’s vocals which I must subjectively say I prefer to listen to. There is a rougher, seemingly attempted Roger Waters quality in Steve Rogers’ vocals and while I do enjoy that quality…I simply feel Savannah’s voice wash all over me in this track and she draws me in like something of a Siren.
Before I get too caught up in this moment, let me just say that if you’re at all politically charged, do check out Staring Into Nothing’s latest album ‘Power‘. And if you arent’ particularly charged politically, go out of your way to listen to this epic album if for no other reason than to enjoy the interesting compositions..and perhaps they will reach you on another level as well. Learn more about the band and what they’re up to right HERE.