REVIEW: Kiros – Lay Your Weapons Down

Kiros-8

Artist: Kiros
Album: Lay Your Weapons Down
Genre: Rock
Label: ANGR/Century Media Records

Lay Your Weapons Down is a wobbly, indecisive album, one that seems to second guess itself in several of its songs and shudders to a horribly unimaginative ending just as it seemed to be picking up a bit. It has obvious quality and the band seem talented and able, but on this album they seem to ignore many of their brighter ideas and weigh down their songs with unnecessary percussion. The album is thus an exasperating, if enjoyable, listen, though it is unfortunate that it only comes into its own about halfway through and then jettisons this potential for reliability.

My dissatisfaction is primarily rooted in the band’s use of awkward, stilted drums to anchor their music. Most of the songs start out well, but when they attempt to evolve or build up to any kind of climax, the limbering percussion slows the advance and unfairly holds them back. This is evident on the first few tracks of the record. “Broken State” is vigorous and solid, with a resurgent solo that seems determined to make up for the shortcomings in rhythm. However, the drums offset any attempt to break free and let loose and thereby leave lots of room to take things up a notch. The second song, “One Thing,” actually does the opposite. It interrupts every sprawl with an insistent and cumbersome drum roll, moodily tarnishing the broody atmosphere and potency of the bitter lyrics. Further along, “Unshaken” opens keenly with rhythm, liveliness, and flair, but it fast loses its sheen by slowing itself up. There are some interesting flourishes towards the end of the song, but all seem pared back by its reluctance to let go.

“Outlaws and Prodigals” is sandwiched in between the above songs and showcases a far more impressive, liberated side to the band. It teems with dark, menacing energy and opens with a stirring riff that all but drills its way into your head. The verses pause for breath and briefly interrupt the newfound momentum, sacrificing velocity and impact for a time-out glazed with soppy lyrics. The addition of some strings near the end reaffirms the song’s exalted intent however, and does much to balance it out.

The band enters a brief and ill-advised bout of sentimentality midway through the album. “What Can Stop Me Now” is almost juicy such is the ripeness of the overflowing feelings. It is at times like this that Lay Your Weapons Down becomes irritating, for the band have clear potential but tracks like these reek of brilliant vision diluted by an unimaginative work ethic. This is a pop song in disguise, and even the occasional whine of a yearning guitar (possibly, and understandably, feeling hard done by) can’t save it. “Good Intentions, Bad Directions” would have been a far more accurate album title, and is a song equal parts wistful and banal, doing its best to sheath the band’s creativity.

There follows, however, an unexpected turnaround about this point. “Passive Through” is a largely acoustic number that gradually becomes the little flight of artistry Kiros have promised since the outset. For one thing, the drums quicken everything, instead of nailing the track steadfastly to the ground. The vocals are endearingly mischievous and the acoustic approach gives it a warm innocence that’s really appealing. The sound intensifies as the song plays out, but the electric guitar is quite muted so it never loses this charm. “Found Me” and “Desperation Calls” are also engaging. The band stick with the energetic kick, offering these as natural antidotes to the sanctimonious mess that blots the album’s midsection. The two tracks are brimming with youthful enthusiasm and unveil a certain toughness and bravado that seems to have been hiding up to now.

Unfortunately, they let their moroseness get the better of them on the final track, “Something Beautiful.” Its initial swell is promising, but this mutates into a clichéd and underwhelming bridge-cum-chorus in which they offer the most ordinary and derivative of goodwill messages. It’s very ‘safe,’ if you will, taking an approach that’s been done a thousand times and failing to offer anything new or interesting.

Lay Your Weapons Down is an album that’s unsure of itself; acutely aware of its limitations but showing little resolve to overcome them. The brief glimpses of quality in its second half illustrate what could be if the band loosen up and take a few risks in their future ventures. It is, generally, a decent listen but in a musical world increasingly saturated with the exquisitely ordinary, it’ll take more than this to stand out.

SCORE: 6/10
Review written by Grace Duffy (Follow her on Twitter)

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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