Choke

Slow Fade Or: How I Learned to Question Infinity

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    8
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This album is intense and original all at once, which is difficult for several groups to pull off at any time. The first track, "Breathing Won't Come Easy" is part 'emo' but primarily solid rock with a slight art pop touch to it. If you could envision Billy Talent on Ritalin, you would get a good idea of the tone and mood the album offers -- infectious, well-crafted and layered tunes that avoid being filtered or pre-packaged. A great example of this is the winding and weaving "Until Next Tide" as guitarists and vocalists Jack Jaggard and Shawn Moncrief work off each other. While there's a dark, metal undercurrent to most of these songs such as the melodic-meets-urgent "Trace Rewind," Choke rarely offer up what the listener expects, building a concrete foundation with each song and veering off into different areas from there. Rarely is there any type of guitar 'noodle-ing' or filler. The radio-friendly tune has to be the short but sweet "Static Remains" with its quality hooks and rhythm, but tend to hit a bit of a roadblock during the epic "This Forced Hour," occasionally covering ground that has been well mined and trodden over. But it's a brief aberration, as "For Good Reason" goes soft and melodic before evolving into a rush of rock intensity, though just bordering the 'emo' genre. The guitar solo is probably the highlight halfway through. Another vital aspect is drummer Clay Shea, whose approach involves him leading the songs as much as being their cornerstone. Several songs move seamlessly into each other, especially the pleasing "Miss This Distance" although it tends to lose its steam near the homestretch. The payoff to "It's Not That I Don't Want to Talk, It's Just That It's Freezing in This Phone Booth" takes a while to reach also, coming across like their own homage to A Perfect Circle. Concluding with "Slow Fade," Choke has enough punch and smarts to leave you grinning in a genre with many horrid imitators but few originators.

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