How the Lonely Keep

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How the Lonely Keep is the Tooth & Nail debut of Terminal, who used to be known as Letter Twelve back in Mansfield, TX. They're a young quintet with a heavy influence from Further Seems Forever, where pleading verses habitually explode into head-nodding chorus proclamations flanked by triumphantly crashing guitars. It's an approach tapped by countless bands attached to the Purevolume and MySpace nations (Tooth & Nail's own Slow Coming Day being just one), and while the sound might be getting a little tired by 2005, the groups keep showing up on your local all-ages show docket. To their benefit Terminal stays away from the extremes of the style. They don't overindulge in contemplative pianos or strings -- in fact, the soft intro to "Dark" actually makes that tack work -- but they don't double Travis Bryant's vocal with a guy screaming bloody murder, either. "Watching, Wasting, Waiting," "Wisher," and "Just a Failure" are wound-tight rockers. They lessen the punch of a band like Get Up Kids with loads of layered guitars and Bryant's occasional choirboy indulgence. But the songs move along capably enough. Terminal suffers a little lyrically on How the Lonely Keep, falling into the usual meditations on loneliness and leaning too hard on imagery. ("I became a desert to your raining....") On the other hand, "Miss Louisiana" is refreshingly direct when Bryant demands closure from his long-distance love, and its arrangement switches speeds well. "Maps" is also strong -- it could be the track to really kill in a live setting. Terminal needs some growth to be truly effective. But How the Lonely Keep is a stronger debut than the record's generic emo cover art and title would suggest.

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