Critic met match in local band

The Shaun Piazza Band recently released its second album.

A ralic opened its set Saturday night at the Lokal Loudness Choice Awards with a stone wall of sound, a crushing monolith of tune-free feedback, distortion and bear-trap bellowing. The band might take that assessment as a compliment.

It is not.

I've always been careful in critiques of local bands to be constructive and point out both the good and bad. My job is not to artificially elevate or dismiss, but to deconstruct and analyze. With Aralic, I might have met my match.

This is a popular band. I'm sure the members are pleasant, smart people with interesting opinions. It's possible in another act, some of them might prove capable of playing a tune or two. But as it stands, Aralic can count itself as the only local band I have no interest in seeing a second time.

Aralic is either the most or least imaginative act I have ever seen. They are either the Andy Kaufman of metal -- built around the high-art concept of being as aggressively bland as possible -- or just unbearable. I hope it's the former but suspect the latter. I can't imagine it would be fun to intentionally play in an act that completely strips any sense of the dynamic from its sound.

Aralic is taking the established genre of metal and stripping away the interesting parts. There's no precision in what it is doing. There is no musicality. Even the angst and anger, the bedrock on which every successful metal act builds, seems affected and forced. It's as though the band learned about the menace of metal from a how-to manual and then tried to replicate it without spinning a single CD.

It's possible that no immediate good will come from this review. I suspect I'll hear from angry fans and perhaps the band. It's not personal. I just really dislike hearing music mishandled, and that's what is happening. I predict an extremely short life for Aralic.

PIAZZA PRODUCES (FINALLY)

The Shaun Piazza Band is entertaining, engaging and talented -- but not prolific.

The band is set to release its second album, When the Stars Fall . It's been a long delivery.

Following the example set by its guitarist, Noel Brown, who spent years toiling over the first release by his other band, the Cubists, the Piazza release has been on the burner for years.

It shows. It shows in the depth and breadth of the songs. They mark the evolution of Piazza as a performer and songwriter and the band as a whole.

While earlier songs often felt like Piazza backed by a band, the songs on Stars seem like compositions written for and by every musician on the track. It's the first time the band's recorded output matched the live vibe of this always-popular Augusta act.

The record falters in its sequencing. Most of the record is the midtempo tunes the Shaun Piazza Band does so well, with a few smart rockers and the odd ballad thrown in for good measure. It's a nice blend that, given the right tracking, would have lent Stars a sense of dynamics.

Unfortunately, many of those midtempo songs were placed early in the order. The result is a bit of musical monotony early on. Without very focused listening, those tracks tend to run together.

The interesting by-product of that misstep, however, is an unusually dynamic set of songs closing the album. The final six songs are an amazing sequence that finds the band veering wildly from jangling rockers (Leave Him ) to a lovely waltz (The Joke ).

The result is a record that, though still very good, hints at the infuriating prospect of greatness. I hope we don't have to wait as long for that album to come to fruition.

 


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