Actor|Observer’s The Longer Now dropped way back in March of 2015, and I’m honestly a bit disappointed with myself that it took me this long to uncover it, as it. The project has a 9 tracks, and should be on the list of any post-hardcore fan. The 5-man, Boston-based group has achieved a sort of ideal post-hardcore quality in this album. One doesn’t need to look much farther than their title track, Steel Yourself, to see this combination of ingredients working together seamlessly.
The heavy introductory riffs and vocals grab you by the seat of your pants, then the smooth chorus picks you up and floats you into the rest of the song. I’m a super picky guy when it comes to vocals, but Greg Marquis’ vocal work is extremely powerful throughout both this track and the entire album. Towards the end of the track, you can hear his voice growing more ragged with effort, and whether this was deliberate or intentional, the raw, emotional power that this gives the track is undeniable. The vocals are paired with well–composed and thoughtful guitar work, which doesn’t detract from the vocals, and does a fantastic job creating and complementing the mood of each song. The percussion also melds right into each track, creating an immersive experience that’s easy to simply get lost in. This balance is what the guys at Actor|Observer seem to thrive on. Many of the tracks on this album achieve this delicate balance between melodic guitars and smooth vocals and raw screaming.
The lyrics hold up, and certainly maintain the feeling and flow of the album, but they definitely lean to the formulaic side. A post-hardcore fan, for example, will run into many of the common subjects found in post-hardcore music. Breakups, sadness, not fitting in, questioning your position in life, etc. However, the obvious sincerity and urgency with which these lyrics are delivered make each song (while formulaic) feel personal on an individual, unique way. I would’ve liked to see a bit more branching out in terms of song subject, because Actor|Observer clearly has both the ability and the talent to do so. I’m extremely excited for what their next project brings.
Personally, my favorite track on the album is Glass Eye, which leads off with one of the most unique hooks on the album.
This is one of those songs with an extremely catchy chorus that you can’t help but sing along to, and I found myself going back to this track the most often, and really getting into it every single time. The track builds up to a fantastic, blowout ending (which you’ll know when you hear it). As a whole, I think this project is a huge success, and further solidifies Actor|Observer as a heavy hitter in Boston’s post-hardcore scene. Actor|Observer’s heavy breakdowns, smooth guitar transitions, raw vocals, and introspective (but not too corny) lyrics come together seamlessly to make a complete post-hardcore breakfast.
What do you think? Give the rest of The Longer Now a listen here: https://actorobserver.bandcamp.com/
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