Here’s the scoop, Locktender is Men as Trees, aged two years and relocated to Cleveland, Ohio. I am not personally familiar with the work they put out under their former name but if this collection of songs is any indication that band had to have been pretty good. This Collected EP consists of three tracks to be split up among three split releases, one with Brighter Arrows, one with Cassilis and one to be announced. The gorgeous cover art was provided by Maxim Rogalski, an illustrator and designer from Germany. One of my favorite experiences in life is when the music or book that accompanies a great piece of cover art fully satisfies the expectation the image provides the groundwork for. So with no further ado…
When listening to this musical triptych it is hard to think of this as a collection, these three songs feel more like movements in a full work. The complete recording clocks in at just shy of 25 minutes following a long, short, long frame work with the first and last tracks tipping the scales at roughly 10 minutes each. At first glance this short yet lengthy EP seems daunting. Attempting to take on such a long-winded approach to Screamo—a genre possibly known best for its brevity—while avoiding self-indulgent variations and swells that often alienate listeners is an ample challenge for even the most weathered composers.
The frantic and grandiose “Visions of the Daughters of Albion” gently nods at Circle Takes the Square influences but does not brazenly cop such a unique sound and pass it off as it’s own. The best contemporary comparison for the band may be Loma Prieta if parallels must be drawn but again the resemblance is fleeting, only present in undertones and the stylistic trajectory of an unstated tradition in post-hardcore that has been quietly at work since the early 90s.
Their are a few components of Locktender’s “sound” that stand out to me: one is a good sense of dynamics and stereo space, the recordings in this collection warmly glow in a consciously analog manner, fully saturating the high and low frequencies at almost all times yet remaining clear and distinct; another is in the sepulchral tone of the polyphonic vocals and occasional chanting; and lastly in the way that the whole record transcends the hysterical platitudes typically associated with this genre. “The Strangest Secret” introduces itself with a summery chord progression and the comparatively short song sonically expounds with celebratory color.
All three tracks express human emotions, poetic balance, grace and motion to marvel at the arcane and the barefaced realities of life. Albeit my description of this record is painfully embellished and I hope that this does not give you the impression that this is all some jazzy highfalutin’ exclusive art school drop out crap; make no mistake, the florid moments are far from grotesque ornamentation but painstakingly deliberate and necessary. However, there is plenty of blood and muscle to this record and it hits where it needs to but refreshingly it does not harp on common first-world emotional crises or dark, nihilist-posturing. No over saturated trend following, no irony, no self-conscious trend bucking. Earnest experimentation crafted by capable hands.