Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thirty Years War - 2002 Martyrs Among The Casualties

Band : Thirty Years War
Album : Martyrs Among The Casualties
Release Year : 2002
Genre : Post-Hardcore | Progressive
Tracklist :
1) A Tribute to Orville Wilcox
2) Chain Wallet, Nike Shoes
3) Tears of Green Eyed Angels
4) Mirrors Are More Fun Than Television
5) Reassurance Rests in the Sea
6) The Day the Strength of Men Failed
7) Knife Fight at the Mormon Church

The Thirty Years War is essentially post-hardcore (phenomenon) The Fall of Troy. Lets not kid ourselves; they may have lost a guitarist in the transition from Thirty Years War to The Fall of Troy, but the essential ingredients are still there (there are even 4 songs from this EP and their other that were eventually used on TFoT’s debut LP). The big difference with Martyrs Among the Casualties and something like Doppelganger is a much rawer, chaotic vibe the band gives off at some points, and then a hard rock/metal outlook it has at others.

As EP’s go, this is one of the longest you’ll find (except for those 2 song, 70 minute pieces of garbage some bands like to crap out), running at 30 minutes with 7 tracks. One of those happens to be “Reassurance Rests in the Sea,” a fan favorite from The Fall of Troy. In the same vein that the remix’s on Doppelganger sounded worse, “Reassurance Rests in the Sea” actually sounds better with the incredibly low production values on the album. You still have the technical guitar riffs coming from Erak, along with a more present rhythm guitar thanks to Mike Munro, and the song is truer to The Fall of Troy sound than anything else here.

Songs like “Chain Wallet, Nike Shows” show where the Thirty Years War really gets its appeal. Vaguely similar to emo bands like Saetia or Joshua Fit For Battle, the song mixes an extremely poppy, upbeat verse section juxtaposed with a swirling scream-fest in the chorus. The EP truly beings when the clean opening notes suddenly shift into screams of “A car ride suicide, the last time I will cry.”

Even more so than their other albums, Martyrs Among the Casualties is filled with pure teenage angst. “Chain Wallet” is a pretty simplistic song about the feeling of being in love with someone even when the other person fall out of it (“Looking into my own eyes, I see sometimes that her promises are empty, and her heart inside is melting”). While not poetry, its an accurate and passionate expression of those terms. “The Tears of the Green Eyed Angel” documents a pretty standard topic on the drone-like state of America’s youth. Of course, because they’re a fashionable post-hardcore band, the lyrics are all extremely abstract and filled with off-beat imagery like “Sun sets day, we're standing in summer's embrace.”

The EP climaxes directly in its middle with “Mirrors Are More Fun than Television.” It’s an assuming song at first; the protagonist is going ut on a date with his girlfriend, and they’re both ecstatic about it. However, as the song slowly goes on, tragedy strikes as during the middle of the date she is struck by an incoming car. Her final words are fairly touching, but its all driven home by Thomas Erak’s fantastic delivery. You won’t see him being this outright emotional in The Fall of Troy anymore; this is pure unadulterated breaking down. HE shifts from a near-sobbing singing voice into screams effortlessly, and makes the line “oh honey, honey, hold me one more time, all I want is for you to look in my eyes, take my hand, don't let me go!!!” far more touching and emotional than it should be.

So, they make use of that whole hip soft, melodious verse/intensssse chorus to contrast the emotions. As corny as it sounds, it really does work here; imagine what would happen if Saetia got together with The Fall of Troy and warped back in time to do this (even though that makes no sense). Of course, this is much goofier at times than either of those, but on the whole it’s nearly everything The Fall of Troy does good without all the wanking bull*** and pretentious lyrics. Yeah, the songs all follow a similar formula, but the playing on the album makes all the songs seem sufficiently different to justify it.

Martyrs Among the Casualties is one of those albums that despite not being as impressive as later outputs by a given band, holds so much more impact. As overused and cliché as it is to say in music reviews, this album is really just a bunch of kids getting together to vent and make great music. As far as early recordings by bands go, this is an extremely tight and well put together album as well. The only gripe I have with it really is that’s tracks 2-4 seriously dominate on the rest of the EP. Regardless, it’s one of my favorite EP’s of all time, and you should at least give it the time of day. -John Hyperbole Hanson

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