The Ionic Spell

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The Spanish post-hardcore/emo band Standstill is less tradition-bound than many of its American brethren, bringing variety and musicianship to a style that had been starting to get a little stale. There's an element of Joan of Arc-style post-rock experimentation here (tape loops and found-sound vocals crop up in songs like the atmospheric opener "Supreme"), but even lengthy and complex songs like the powerful, slowly unfolding "Sunrise People in Sunset Days" are built on a hardcore-based devotion to whisper-to-a-scream dynamics, pummeling rhythm sections, and passionate vocals. However, unlike some bands that use similar techniques in an uninspired, cookie-cutter fashion, Standstill makes canny use of both subtle textural shifts like the stutter-step drumming that powers the anguished "Angelica" and more overt changeups like the burbling electronica of "The Farewell Notes." The Ionic Spell is an impressive debut that hints at potentially great things to come.

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