Band: Artifex Pereo
Title: Ailments & Antidotes
Released: July 26th 2011
Producer: Kris Crummett
Ailments & Antidotes is one hell of an album. The band’s music is similar to that of Tides of Man, only a little heavier and slightly less accessible, with non-linear song structures, regular tempo changes and some excellent vocals. The album sounds splendidly crisp as well, thanks to yet another excellent job by producer Kris Crummett.
I’ve often argued that a band can have melodies that are laced with hooks without compromising complexity in composition, but finding evidence can be very hard to do. When it happens though it’s an absolute joy to behold, as you get to appreciate the brilliance of highly talented musicians weaving exciting patterns of music, whilst being hit with infectious vocal lines that live long in the memory. That’s exactly what we have on Ailments & Antidotes. Artifex Pereo have managed to balance the use of varied time signatures, tempo changes and loose-fitting song structures with cleverly arranged and highly infectious vocal patterns, all without sacrificing the groove and feel of the music.
On first listen, the most prominent feature was the quality of the musicianship on show and although the vocals serve as a pleasant addition, they don’t particularly stand out. The more you listen to the album though, the more you pick up on the intelligent inflections on certain words that turn standard verse patterns into catchy hooks. The more this happens, the more you want to sing along, which means turning to the lyrics booklet. It’s there that the real joy of this album starts to take shape: not only are the lyrics excellent, but following these along with the music makes you appreciate even more how clever the vocal arrangements are and when combined with the consistently impressive foundation of music that runs throughout the eleven tracks, it puts this album amongst the finest releases this year.
In the interest of balance, there is a minor complaint that I have and that is the arrangement of songs. There is a range tempos on offer amongst the eleven tracks and various different moods, and although each track in isolation is as strong as the next, the way that the tracks have been ordered makes the middle of the album appear to lag a little. The opening five tracks are energetic, pacey and hard-hitting and the songs that follow are more sombre and calming. This sudden slow-down in pace makes the progression through the album seem sluggish, which make some songs seem weaker than they actually are. If these tracks were interspersed more effectively, then the album as a complete play-through would have more impact.
As referenced earlier, there are similarities in Artifex Pereo’s music to Tides of Man. Both bands have a solid foundation of technically excellent, well constructed songs that are supplemented with cleverly arranged orations of excellent lyrics. Both bands have highly talented musicians and vocalists, using their abilities to bridge the gap between catchy, melodious songs and technically challenging song-writing. We need bands like these to exist, to act as inspiration to other talented bands who feel the need to dilute their complexity in order to become more accessible. It is possible to achieve both, and here is further proof. Highly impressive proof.