Much like metalcore, post-hardcore has seen a strong loss of originality in the past few years. Bands come and go as ideas are copied and pilfered until we have the same recycled bands over and over again. Luckily there are a few bands who are able to take the genre and add their own touch, while at the same time not reinventing the genre. Bands like Emarosa and Broadway have strayed from the generic while still remaining familiar enough for fans of the genre to appreciate them. This is where This Town, A Forest comes in, maintaining the familiar touch of the genre, but still keeping an identity.
Right from the opening track “The Definition Of…” you have an idea of what This Town, A Forest’s debut EP Emerge is about. You have the strong vocals of Tim D’Agostino, which are just right for the kind of music they play; they’re not too high to where they can get grating, but they’re also not bland or forgettable. The guitars are also able to shine outside of the breakdown sequences. At times they will try some different riffs, and thanks to the mixing, the listener is able to hear them perfectly. Of course the breakdowns are also present, but they are not constantly abused and are sometimes mixed with some fancier guitar work. My only complaint when it comes to this breakdown is the trance-like part that is added to the breakdown in the song, which could have easily been removed without affecting the song.
The keyboards in this EP are also used to better the songs. “Frequencies” has an underlying keyboard line that furthers the song’s feeling, and while it may not be the first thing that listeners will notice, once it becomes apparent, it becomes the best part of the song.
“Like Owls” is easily the highest moment for the album. From the very beginning the dual guitars set a sense of professionalism in the music. One of the greatest moments of the song is the memorable hook, as it shows that D’Agostino has what it takes to carry the EP’s tracks. “Me? I’ve Had So Many Names” also has one hell of a hook (“With cautionary tales/Now nothing’s as it seems”.) The band also shows the talent they have for ballads in “Vitrified Skies,” which has traces of double vocals, something that works well with the band, and that I hope they utilize more in the future.
While there’s not exactly any bad songs on the EP, there are songs that have clichés in them, taking away from them instead of making them more memorable. For example the intro to “Tyrants,” which has an overtly exaggerated synth line, made popular by bands like We Came As Romans. The synth line overshadows the actual music in the intro and that’s never a good thing. In addition the breakdown at the end of “Me? I’ve Had So Many Names” seems out of place, as they come in and out of the actual chugging, which makes it seem interrupting.
Overall Emerge is an EP that’s perfect for fans of the genre, and even those who have become disenchanted with the over-saturation of the genre will find a couple of interesting things here. This may not be the most original EP ever, but at least it gets its point across, shows talent, and most importantly, shows promise.