The Sabians


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The Sabians wasted little time preparing a follow-up to 2002's very impressive Beauty for Ashes, and it's good to note that the resulting Shiver more than measures up to prior expectations. Bursting out of the gate with its surprisingly forceful guitar riff, opener "Sixteen-Forty" is amazingly compact and immediate as compared to its predecessor's more often tempered and contemplative "torch-ure songs." But for those of you who found such dynamic temperance to be at the very heart of the Sabians' mysteriously alluring formula, this first impression is no reason for worry, as second offering "One by One" quickly asserts itself with the same combination of power chords and spidery melodies that worked so well on the debut. Third track, the haunting ballad "Cold Black River," is even more recognizable in this regard, and its stirring performance (due in large part to singer Justin Marler's impassioned delivery) is but the first vertiginous drop in a roller-coaster-like emotional ride that includes a series of similarly distinctive standouts in "Sweet Misery," "Spiders and Flies," and the terrifyingly creeping "Broken Circle." Ultimately, the mesmerizing hard rock of Shiver represents a significant step forward for the Sabians -- not only in terms of (previously unheard-of) consistency, but perhaps more importantly, because it clearly opens new doors for the group creatively while simultaneously shutting out some of their earlier forays into tentative experiments and outright distractions. In other words, Shiver is the kind of album that converts you after three listens instead of ten. Recommended.

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