Crave And Collapse

Narcissus - Crave And Collapse ©2003 Abacus Recordings
1. Division Of The Figureheads
2. Crave And Collapse
3. Talented Prey - Weak Hunter
4. "Rush"
5. Sounds Of Silver
6. Pride / Politics
7. To James
8. The Recovery
9. Seveneight
10. Blessed Coma
11. Indifference Of Living
12. Anticardia
13. Grey

Narcissus is here to back up Drew Carey's claim that "Cleveland rocks!" This four piece outfit appears to know whose line it is with this fairly impressive new CD, Crave and Collapse. The band is now four releases deep, including one EP and two previous full length releases. Although I'm unfamiliar with earlier material, this appears to be a creative band heading places. Moreover, despite all the excellent moments on Crave and Collapse, one also gets the distinct impression this is a work in progress and should only get better from this point on.

Narcissus envelopes a field of styles that include modernized space hardcore pioneered by the likes of Cave In, touches of emo (but mostly in singer John Pope's clean singing voice), and elements of rock that might be progressive...but I'm not here to dive into that realm of labeling. Guitarist John LaRussa, the other half the two Johns that are not They Might Be Giants, is the ace in the hole for this band. He seamlessly alternates between heavier riffs and the "sound of the cosmos" that apparently equals a delay effect and simple note picking. However, his spacier arrangements, coupled with a very solid rhythm section, give Narcissus a leg up on other bands out there because much of the guitar playing is very memorable and interesting. Although he doesn't dive into the Cave In world of monolithic effects, he offers just enough spice to keep the band from sounding like a zillion other hardcore bands. Meanwhile, Pope alternates between a Anselmo-esque strangled rasp to slightly wavering clean vocals. For some listeners, it may take a few spins of Crave and Collapse to get used to the actual timbre of his voice; however, he is fairly strong with his melodies and sings them with conviction. If nothing else, he perhaps could use some coaching on his singing to avoid sounding like the weeping emo stereotype. No one would possibly want that tag.

Crave and Collapse is a very strong record and for the fans of Cave In who felt a letdown with Antenna's poppier side, is a notable contender for the "cosmic hardcore" field that seems to be catching on. While Narcissus won't be contending with Dave Brock for the position of master of the universe quite yet, this band has started on an intriguing journey.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2003

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