REVIEW: Spies Like Us – Breather

spies like us 2011

Artist: Spies Like Us
Album: Breather
Genre: Metalcore
Label: In Vogue Records

Every once in awhile I get a reminder that we live in really is a very small world. This past weekend, I was at an electro festival, with Excision, Diplo, and so on, and I ran into one of my car buddies, which was random enough as is, we never talked about music, mostly just about his insane BMW build, and he was there with his friends, one of which turned out to be a guy I was on Warped Tour with a couple of years ago. Now, if this had happened at say, a Devil Wears Prada show or a similar Warped-veteran show, then I wouldn’t have been surprised, but Excision? I wasn’t expecting that. If the world isn’t small, the music industry certainly is. There are certain bands out there that I have countless ties to, but just never got around to meeting, we’re just constantly working about one step away from each other, acknowledging each other’s existence, but never actually taking that last step, and yet, they still manage to show up in the most random of places. The best example of this is probably Spies Like Us, of New Hampshire, they have shared the stage several times all over New England with Farewell, Dreamer, one of the bands from my record label, I believe I may have even played with them myself before, but I never got to meet them, just watched from afar. And here we are, coming full circle, still never met them, but now I’m reviewing their new album Breather: out now on In Vogue Records. Naturally, I’ve been familiar with these guys for awhile, and since they’re just as deep in the New England metal scene as my boys in Farewell, Dreamer, I knew I wasn’t about to be disappointed.

So of course, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I first listened to Breather:, the musicianship, and most aspects of the production really blew me away. The New England metal kids have definitely earned my respect when it comes to musical taste, and they certainly didn’t disappoint this time either, it’s no wonder that I can’t go anywhere up north without hearing someone talking about these guys. There was one problem however, throughout the entire album, during every single song something just didn’t sit right. I couldn’t ignore this sense of wanting more. In a way, I was slightly unsatisfied, only because I couldn’t stop thinking about how much intensity this whole album would have in a live setting. I’d rather be seeing it all, than just hearing it. Maybe this is the result of a personal bias, knowing what this music is capable of in person, but either way, Breather: feels like one of those free samples of ice cream, good, but never enough, “if you like this, you need to check out the real thing.” And as I sit at my desk down in DC, nearly 500 miles away from the bands I came to know and love in Boston, the distance is really hitting hard. But then again, I might just be feeling the perfect reaction about all this, an album that leaves the listener completely content is in essence, a failure. From a business standpoint, and for the music fans, everybody wants more, and they should, they want to go to shows, they want another album, anything they can get their hands on. And in that sense, this album left me feeling exactly what I should be feeling after listening to a truly good album. Now I just need to get back to Boston to catch a show.

The New England metal scene is something that’s better experienced than told about, it is such a tight knit group of bands, with several mini-epicenters scattered throughout the region, and a good handful of bands at the forefront, representing their own little areas, all coming together to share shows, help each other, and just have a good time with their friends. It’s a really amazing concept, that’s fascinating to watch, and Spies Like Us lives by this mantra completely. They act as a sort of ambassador to the New Hampshire section, and they’re going to be on any show put on up there, so I can speak from experience when I say that some bands have to be seen live, at a show, in order to be really appreciated. And who knows, maybe I’ll finally cross paths with Spies Like Us some day, or maybe I’ll never get a chance to actually meet these guys, and they’ll just keep going on, playing shows with some of my best friends, at some of my favorite venues, and we’ll just live our parallel lives, semi-independantly of one another. And that’s fine, as long as they keep going, they’ll have no complaints from me, cause they’re really on to something here.

SCORE: 9/10
Reviewed by: Mike Hogan

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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