ALBUM REVIEW: “Face The Sun”

Entrance-Band-1024x994The three members of The Entrance Band—frontman Guy Blakeslee, Paz Lenchantin on bass and drummer Derek James–have expressed displeasure with the stoner rock classification often used to describe their music, and indeed, the November 2013 LP Face The Sun is too tricky to fall into one just one category: channeling elements of psychedelic trance, trippy garage rock, the grungier end of metal and a touch of rockabilly, the new record melds various eras and evocations in service to the ideas it expresses. Themes run expansive on Face The Sun; lyrics like “Blood, sweat, sugar and spice, light and dark, fire and ice/shedding tears of sacrifice at the gates of paradise” set up the collection as an exploration of extremes and a journey from one end of the spectrum to another.

Face The Sun isn’t a straight shot from darkness to light, though, nor is it a story of transformation exactly. The music’s intensity focuses more closely on playing with the tensions between those extremes, with noodling vocal lines that shift from major to minor mode or float heroically over distorted, spellbinding instrumentals. If there’s a redemption story here, it’s an incomplete and messy one.

The reaper does come calling on this album, without a doubt. “Spider,” the best and most diabolically infectious track on Face The Sun, contains all the sunburnt misery and grim determination of Alice In Chains’ early nineties track, “Rooster.”  Frontloaded in “Medicine,” “Spider” and “The Crave” (tracks two, three and four), the rhyme-driven narrative focus creates an angst that’s catchy and extremely compelling. In “The Cave”, the line “When I’m in my grave, no more good times will I crave” quotes verbatim Elizabeth Cotten’s early twentieth-century standard “Freight Train.” The recollection, itself embroiled in hard times and an escape from darkness, tinges Entrance with weighty folk, recalling Blakeslee’s past lives as a hard rock and blues musician.

The end of the LP, like its beginnings with “Fine Flow”, conjures spacey, surreal ambiance. But whereas the first track opens urgently, the final song, “Night Cat,” evokes a sleepy moodiness. The band forgoes straight trajectory in favor of a non-linear album-long line that weaves between extremes of light and darkness, and the downside to this complexity comes when, at the end, “Night Cat” shows little progression beyond “Fine Flow,” and a marked decline in momentum. Both tracks trend psychedelic and repetitive, and both could stand to be much shorter. The meat of the album lies in the middle, where each track features a traversal of big themes and big evolution unto itself. The first and last track of the album feel redundant by comparison, bookending an already complete project with a beginning and ending.

Listen to “Fire Eyes,” off Face The Sun Here, via Soundcloud:

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