08 Feb 2022 - Jonas
Post-Rock / Post-Hardcore | Release date: 15 Feb 2022
Since June 2020, the Buffalo-based solo project called Thought Trials has released two EPs and four stand-alone singles, and now it’s finally time for the genre-bending debut album – Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing!
The mind behind this project, Josh Martin, started as a drummer, while also picking up a guitar along the way, writing full songs for some of the bands he was in, albeit in a behind-the-scenes capacity, with genres ranging from screamo, emo, post-rock, and indie pop. Eventually feeling like the logical next step would be to actually play the guitar in the bands rather than only composing the tracks. After departing as the drummer from the Ohio-based post-rock band NOMADS, he went a few years without being involved with music. Enter the pandemic. A surge in creativity needed an outlet and Thought Trials came into existence.
The album kicks off with the track “Guilt and Shame”, which much like the title itself carries a very melancholic tone, which oddly enough reminds me of two now-defunct Swedish bands, called Aerial, of the post-rock variety, as well as Disembarked, who operated in the realms of post-hardcore and screamo. Something about the guitar tone, combined with the cadence and the reverb, instantly teleports my mind back through space and time, filling me with nostalgia. The track comes to a lull and an audio clip from Paul Thomas Anderson’s cinematic masterpiece “Magnolia” (1999) starts playing, in which an elderly man is struck with regret of a life not lived, standing at the very precipice between life and death itself. Even if you haven’t seen the film, the audio itself is more than capable of thrusting a dagger through one’s heart, and once the clip comes to an end, we get caught in a flurry of blast beats to twist the dagger – But in a good way!
The second track, “Kintsugi”, also called “Kintsukuroi”, 金繕い, takes its name from the Japanese art of repairing shattered plates and pottery by mending them with gold lacquer. It’s a sort of philosophical mindset that embraces imperfections while accepting the transience of everything. That by having been broken and mended, it has become stronger, built more character, and become more beautiful. “Mono no aware”, as they say, or empathy towards things. A perfect title for this track as it starts off in one piece, only to shatter to the sound of Lauren Davis’ shrieking voice when it transitions into pure post-hardcore territory, then going through a period that seems like self-reflection before eventually starting to mend itself. Lauren, as well as Erin Malone, of the Dallas-based post-hardcore outfit, Greybloom lent their skills to this track and they are, along with Josh, a part of the Post-Everything Collective, which is an online gathering of like-minded artistic individuals who shares ideas and collaborate with each other.
“Self-Perpetuation” starts off sounding a lot like an ambient intermission of sorts, to give the listener some respite from the emotionally heavy first two tracks, which is definitely welcome, but it’s not without surprises. When you think the track ends, a little after halfway through, it suddenly erupts into a heavy and instrumental post-metal section, before settling back into the intermission mode, like it never happened.
After facing the unpredictable nature of the previous track, “Hedonism” comes off as a wolf in sheep’s clothing at first, which is good. It keeps me on edge and more attentive, trying to detect the slightest signs of the music progressing in one way or other. It’s a track that is by the book and by the numbers without sounding at all derivative. It has everything I want in a post-rock track, and it’s done really well. Fits the theme of the track well, about pleasure. It’s almost like comfort food.
There it is – The ambient interlude! Well.. Not really. The penultimate track, “Noneness”, is definitely on the ambient side of the spectrum, with sparse vocals, but to call this anything but a track of its own would do it a great deal of injustice. I could listen to an entire album filled with tracks like this – A conditioner for the soul.
The final track, “Belonging”, goes into the gritty side of things, further emphasized by some audio clips of people describing their mental maladies. Equal parts slow, heavy and filthy, landing somewhere between Tunnel Blanket-era of This Will Destroy You, and A Film in Color’s They Move in Endless Circles. Like the ending of The Sopranos, it builds up to a false crescendo, leaving you to contemplate what you’ve just witnessed and what it truly means to belong.
With an emotional weight that could move mountains, Thought Trials ardently captures the attention of the listener from the first note until the last whilst navigating a plethora of genres with prowess, which truly is a testament to Josh Martin’s abilities as a composer. A phenomenal debut album and hopefully the first of many to come.