Along with a few others here at the blog, I’m going through some big life changes. After finishing my undergraduate degree this spring, I (we) look now to the uncertain future and all that it brings. Violent, the new record from the Kelowna three piece band We Are The City comes at the perfect moment for these life changes. Tackling issues of change, the maturation of self, our place in life, and the dreaded need to then adjust, all in a new and confident sound, Violent hits hard.
Fleshed out in a condemned house dubbed the “Magic House,” check out some videos of the band working their in magic in the house, Violent’s sound is a force. Although my calling their sound a “force,” paired with the title of the album, may seem like We Are The City has branched off into the heavy-metal genre or something, their sound combines varying styles and elements further than they have every done before, for ten very intricate, experimental-rock/prog-rock-like tracks.
The swirling background sounds of “Bottom of the Lake” paired with what feels like a new found strength of Cayne McKenzie’s voice immediately catches your ear to begin the record. Effortlessly transitioning to the percussion heavy “Legs Give Out” – thirty-nine seconds of Andy Huculiak’s stellar drumming in “Passing of the Peace” also shows off his skills – and then into the guitar heavy “King David,” Violent marked a return for guitarist David Menzel who briefly left the band during their High School EP (Blake Enemark stepped in during that period). With this, barely the first half of the record, you are thrown into an intensity that is both instrumentally and lyrically felt.
Both “Bottom of the Lake” and “Legs Give Out” touch on familiar feelings of what feels like being beaten by life while McKenzie then asks one of the record’s most powerful questions in the following track, “King David,” asking, “David, am I going to hell?” When feeling lost in whatever the case my be, in a recent interview with CBC Huculiak said that the album is primarily about the band finding their spiritual bearings, asking for guidance and validity from your friends is a personal part of the process which is perfectly captured in this desperate question.
Speaking of friends in relation to the quest in self-reliance and peace, the instrumentally minimal, “Friends Hurt” is lyrically one of the strongest We Are The City songs to date. A simple synth beat guides the song, only briefly interrupted by a more distorted keyboard part, while the repetitive chorus of, “it hurts when friends are hurting, and my friends are hurting,” is a beautifully reflective and simple turn of phrase. Similarly, “Everything Changes,” again, deals with the introspective, diving deeper into the band’s feelings as McKenzie sings, “everything is changed, and I don’t want to change.”
Finally, “Punch My Face” closes the record with an emotional punch. A softly performed piano song centered around McKenzie, it’s in the sprawling final minutes of the record where heavy guitar distortion overwhelms for a perfect representation of how emotionally overwhelming the record truly is.
Top Tracks: “King David,” “Friends Hurt,” “Everything Changes”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*