Considering that Jason Martin (Starflyer 59) manned the boards for History Invades’ The Structure of a Precise Fashion, and that the liner notes mention the likes of Andrew Prickett (Cush, The Prayer Chain) and Josh Dooley (Map), you might expect to have a pretty good idea of what to expect. And you’d probably be wrong. Whereas the aforementioned individuals’ bands are all on the dreamier, more atmospheric end of the spectrum (especially the mighty Starflyer), History Invades is angular and dissonant, seemingly composed entirely of right angles, convoluted, spasmic rhythms, and hoarse voices.
Within the album’s 10 tracks, one can hear everything from Bloc Party’s wiry post-punk stylings to Roadside Monument’s precise math-rock layouts, with a hint or two of an OK Computer-esque outlook on modern society, alienation, and consumerism thrown in for good measure. Then add to that the fact that History Invades isn’t actually a band, but rather, according to their website, “a democracy of operatives who take their post and utilize their motives and personal tastes to hone a perfected sound.”
Altogether, it adds up to a band that takes their music quite seriously, but the music itself isn’t quite honed enough to live up to such declarations and comparisons. For all of the band’s angst-ridden vocals and explosive, turn-on-a-dime song dynamics, it never really gets the blood flowing.
Rather, it feels like the band gets lost somewhere in the mix, mucking about and fighting tooth and nail to make their sound — and presumably their message — packed full of conviction, but stumbling somewhere along the way. Which is to say that it’s loud and chaotic, but despite the fact that the band members Daniel Scott Mayberry and Paul Albert Harper scream until their throats are likely bleeding, not much is actually said.
There are solid moments sprinkled throughout the disc. The album’s opening track, “We Ran Out Of Bridges So We Burned Our Houses,” is a legitimate monster. It bounds along on a deep bassline and a shuffling, dance-inducing beat whilst the bandmembers yelp out anthems — right up until the bridge breaks in and threatens to consume everything in a fireball of guitar distortion.
“Nightcap” features a surging, razor-thin guitar line that could bleed anything in Bloc Party’s discography and the album’s closer, “Everybody Has Something To Except For Me And My Wildfire,” takes the band’s choppy, angular approach to higher level, especially on the chorus when the guitars begin throwing out these huge, Swervedriver-esque riffs. Unfortunately, it gets bogged down in an outro of more stop/start drumming and even choppier guitars that goes on for too long, becoming rather tedious despite its spasmodic nature. Which actually describes the flaw that hinders much of the album.
History Invades spends so much time and effort being unpredictable and intense, either throwing out a weird juxtaposition of elements (such as the gangly combination of wiry guitars and synthesizer zaps on “My Name Is Afraid”) or trading screams back and forth (nearly every song on the album), that it becomes tedious after awhile. You just want them to slow down, find a bit more direction and focus, and flesh out the songs a bit more. Not for your sake, but for their’s, so that their music has the depth and urgency that they’re obviously trying to communicate.