Long Distance Calling- TRIPS
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Post Rock, Atmospheric
Long Distance Calling has been on my radar since I discovered the band with their 2nd album, 2009's Avoid The Light. That album really changed how I looked at music at the time and really helped me embrace what I now enjoy: emotional passages, soundtrack style movements of peaks and valleys, highs and lows, heavy and light; and above all, the idea that nothing is off limits as long as it makes sense to you, musically. With Long Distance Calling, that has always been a driving focus of the band. With the band's 5th album (and 7th release overall) TRIPS, the band continues to follow the path of making the music that is right for them and hopefully the fans will be there along for the ride. Admittedly, this is a bit of a polarizing album. This album goes into different territory from very catchy, almost Top 40 mainstream moments to very dark moments to very symphonic moments. TRIPS is very much like the name implies...a trip. A trip of the mind and soul. Strap in and let me tell you all about it!
The album starts with a bit of a rude awakening with Getaway. By rude awakening, I mean a perfect throwback to the 1980s soundtracks we all (of a certain age) know and love. The synths really drive this and make you feel like you are about to watch Blade Runner or Escape From New York. It's very rhythm based and very simple by LDC's standards, but that is what makes the song great. An elongated intro track to the album, if you will. It also really gives a great impression of what the theme of the album is all about. Next up is Reconnect. This is the first track on the album that features vocals by vocalist Petter Carlsen. The song starts off a bit more modern alternative sound with a driving synth track. the chorus brings the track a bit more on the heavy side while still maintaining it's catchiness. Overall, a great track. Rewind is one of the more emotional tracks on the album and really summarizes what the band is all about in 2016. It starts very somber with emotional vocals and piano that slowly builds up with lone guitar strikes and pulsing drums. The lyrics of the song can really bring a tear to your eye if heard at the right time (it almost has for me a few times now). The song overall has a bit of a Dredg influence in terms of the depressing but emotional and by proxy, uplifting, feel to it. A sheer highlight of the album. Trauma is the next track and it is the next instrumental. This one bring you back to the song, Long Distance Calling, from the band's Self Titled album. Different enough, of course, but a great driving instrumental track that has heavy riffs, prog flavoring and will make older fans of the band very happy. One standout part of the song is the driving bass lines of Jan Hoffmann in the middle section. It definitely brings a great driving feel to the ,otherwise, atmospheric segment of the song. Those that wanted a heavier song from LDC got it with this one. Lines is the first track (and as I'm writing this only track) that has been released so far. The song starts off feeling very Alternative Rock, especially in the vocals. From others I've heard some people say there is a Muse influence. I've heard others even say Hoobastank influence, of all things. The shining moment of the song and easily one of my favorite moments from the band, EVER, is the chorus. From the driving instrumentation to the powerful vocals, it made the song go from a cool modern rock sounding song to an absolute powerhouse. The instrumental section of the song brings back the atmosphere that songs like The Nearing Grave off Avoid The Light and even more so, Middleville off of the Self Titled album, that give great contrast to the rest of the song. The ending with the repeated chorus makes the song impossible not to headbang to. If there was ever a song from a band of this caliber to break out into Radio Rock and change Radio Rock for the better, it's this track! Presence brings things back to a more mellow vibe as an interlude. Starting with guitar, synths and ending with spoken word that leads way into the more upbeat, Absolution era of Muse, vibe with Momentum. This track is a great instrumental that really speaks without vocals (which is always a fantastic element of LDC). It's at a heartbeat tempo rate and very busy playing from everyone involved, especially drummer Janosch Rathmer. 3/4ths into the song, it brings back a heavy Avoid the Light feel that I very much enjoy. The song ends with far away synths that fade away. This of course leads to the last track with vocals, Plans. This has a very Post Rock feel to it with it's clean guitar, and electronic sounding synths and drums. The vocals gain a tremendous amount of power in the chorus. A little over half way through the song, it starts to build into a much more symphonic moment, not usually seen with the band. Gaining heaviness slowly but surely, with the synth strings helping the build, it builds up into a classic LDC riff at 5:02 and going to the end that older fans will love and appreciate. The final track, Flux, is the longest song on the album as a 12 minute plus instrumental that, once again, brings back the memories of Avoid The Light, the S/T album, even all the way back to the band's first EP, Satellite Bay. While a majority of the song stays more mellow, it constantly builds. A little under half way through the song, it builds into a fantastic heavy riff that leads into a more subdued moment once again. Again, Hoffmann shows off how to make a fantastic and groovy bass line in this moment right before the guitar kicks back into the song with a killer clean solo. The last quarter of the song brings the atmospheric moments back with a very emotional movement that almost feels like you are about to crash land in a heroic way. The final moments brings back the piano, synths, and spoken word that brings you back to reality, a sad reality of how life and the universe really works.
TRIPS is an album that centers around taking a trip through space and time. Before and after the time of Man, entering areas we have never seen before, moments we wanna go back to, moments we wish we could redo, and really thinking about how our lives work the way they do. Like anyone reading this. I know I have my share of regrets. Not spending enough time with family or friends, letting bridges burn, making choices that altered my life in different ways. This really gives you that short feeling of entering your psyche and exploring what could be if you had those opportunities to go back in time or rocket yourself ahead in time. The overall message of the album is clear. Make the most of the time you have on Earth. Never take any moment for granted and enjoy everything that you can. As you can tell, the album has definitely resonated with me in a big way and hopefully, if this reviews makes you at all interested, if will for you as well. While it's a bit premature to say for sure, I think this has potential to not only be one of the best albums of 2016, but I dare say, TRIPS may be my favorite Long Distance Calling album to date!
Long Distance Calling- TRIPS available April 29th through Inside Out Music
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.