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Godbless Thee, Mooseheart: The Prison, Pt. I

Critiquing a DIY musical endeavor is always a dual edge sword; on the one hand, credit must be given for the artists' ambition, determination, and [usual] modesty, but at the same time these ventures are often noticeably lackluster. Usually, the production, songwriting, arrangements, timbres, and vocals leave something to be desired, and unfortunately that proves to be the case with The Prison, Pt. I, the newest offering by Godbless Thee, Mooseheart. Undoubtedly, a lot of heart and humility when into this, and there are some intriguing moments throughout, but overall there just isn't much to hold onto.

Godbless Thee, Mooseheart (which, let's be honest, is a great band name) is the side project of guitarist Brent Vallefuoco (Xanthochroid). As the sole official member, he uses an interchangeable group of musicians to help bring his vision to life, which, as he says, means that GTM "can be considered as a musical collective rather than just a solo project." Accordingly, the album hopes to convey "powerful themes [such] as nostalgia, the romanticization of youth, and the transition from youth to adulthood… [it's] simultaneously musically engaging, memorable, and, most importantly, beautiful." At times, these sentiments ring true; however, most of the time the record feels too lifeless, bland, and sparse, which is a shame considering that Vallefuoco's influences include fantastic artists such as Porcupine Tree, Between the Buried and Me, The Dear Hunter, Pink Floyd, Opeth, and Sigur Rós.

The album begins intriguingly enough with "Our Safe Homeland," a brief, prophetic spoken word passage about oblivion and hopelessness. Dissonance builds behind the vocals, making it wonderfully ominous. Afterward, though, things become annoying as the two-part "A Dark New Work" offers nothing but screeching and ugliness. "Peace at Last" is a pleasant instrumental centered on acoustic guitar chords; it segues into "The Sullen Suburbia," which is a bit heavier. Sadly, it's the first of many demonstrations of how poor a singer and songwriter Vallefuoco is. Like much of the album, the track feels amateurish; similarly, like the sporadic duality of this paragraph, The Prison, Pt. I constantly shifts between being good and bad.

As for the rest of the album, it continues the trend of being slightly intriguing and majorly repetitive. Save for a few exceptions, the same few tones are used throughout, which makes it sound like the same few parts are recycled over and over again. Truthfully, the most worthwhile sections here are the transitions—almost every track begins in the aftermath of its predecessor, and they're usually very seamless and clever. Furthermore, a few tracks, such as "The Tribe," "The Righteous Rebellion," "The Sullen Fortress," and "Rediscovery, Pt. II" feature fairly affective arrangements and delicate instrumentation. Album closer "Where to Now?" is perhaps the best example of this—it's a simple piano piece with scratchy atmosphere, and it's damn near heartbreaking.

Essentially, The Prison, Pt. I is selectively charming, allusive, clever, and beautiful while also containing a lot of stagnancy, redundancy, and unprofessionalness. It's a mixed bag (which is why I discussed it the way that I have). Much like Casey Crescenzo and his Dear Hunter saga, Vallefuoco is a bold musician who wants to tell an involving tale with a lot of sentiment and fortitude; regrettably, though, The Prison, Pt. I is a far cry from the genius of Crescenzo's Act trilogy. There's a lot of potential for future greatness, but it definitely hasn't been reached yet.

Track Listing

1. Our Safe Homeland
2. A Dark New World? (Pt. 1)
3. A Dark New World? (Pt. 2)
4. Peace at Last
5. The Sullen Suburbia
6. Goodbye, Father
7. Rediscovery, Pt. I
8. Family Reunion
9. The Prison
10. The Tribe
11. The Righteous Rebellion
12. The Sullen Fortress
13. Displacement
14. Rediscovery, Pt. II
15. Goodbye, Mother
16. Where to Now?

Added: April 8th 2013
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Bandcamp Site
Hits: 2933
Language: english

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