The Dying Arts deftly balance power with delicacy, and violence with tenderness.
On their Facebook page, the Dying Arts list their genre as “haven’t decided,” and on their debut EP, this (occasionally productive) indecision shows. The five-song suite is a combination of gritty, sweaty post rock that owes a debt to METZ and Indian Handcrafts, and a kind of woozy, Darcys-esque Canadian rock. Which aspect of this split personality you prefer will depend on your musical taste, and listeners will be bound to have some strong feelings either way.
Caveats aside, the more aggressive, less restrained parts of the EP are certainly the strongest. The record opens with a pair of thick, guitar-driven tracks in “Scratch” and “Bed Spins,” and vocalist Mike Portoghese proves he has some great growly, almost hardcore harshness in him. While his clean singing is fine, and the mellower, moodier numbers on the album come across as genuine, there is no doubt that the album’s best moments happen when the massive guitar tone is given free rein.
That said, the Dying Arts shouldn’t kibosh their softer side entirely, as some great moments happen here in the transitions between violence and contemplativeness. In every track, force gives way to gentler, more atmospheric passages that privilege tenderness and texture above sheer power, and the movement between these modes is done exceedingly well. Nimble and intelligent, the Dying Arts are a few recalibrations away from having a killer alchemical musical formula.