At the beginning of 2015, I interviewed Superior guitarist Matthew McMillin about a then-upcoming tour and briefly mentioned their new record coming out. The tour is long over, and now the time for the record release is quickly approaching.
This past week Superior released two more songs from their upcoming album (Sad) Earth, the title track and the “first single,” “The Great Year.” I put “first single” in quotes because with that article we posted in January, we posted what I thought was the “first single”, because it was the first song that came out from the record. That song was called “Lifeblood.” And actually they released the title track, “(Sad) Earth” before “The Great Year,” but I see that the band is referring to “The Great Year” as the “first single.” I figured those guys would be masters at counting with the lop-sided, quasi-erratic music that they play, but that assumption is evidently incorrect.
But other than the difference between the first three whole numbers above zero, there was something shocking about the release of “The Great Year.” Maybe it was in response to this gem, (if you haven’t read this you really should!) but HearNebraska.org covered the release, read their article here.
Anyway, here at BadassConcert.com, we pride ourselves in using words to describe music, and I will begin that portion of the article now.
“The Great Year” starts off interestingly, with really no musical intro to speak of before the vocals kick in. A low tuned guitar slide is all you get before vocalist James Morgan begins “hardcore-style” yelling over stutter-edited guitars. The first section of the song continues on like this, with stop-and-start guitars, sparse drum riffs, and all sorts of low tuned string noises (slides, bends, riff snippets, bass drops, etc.) to punctuate the wall of sound.
The song then slips into a pre-chorus, during which the stutter-editing gets more stuttery. Morgan is almost rapping over the music. And there there’s another smooth slip into the chorus which spices up the song with upper octave pad sounds and melodic singing.
After the first chorus, what happens? There is a part that I can’t label as the middle part of the chorus, or the second verse, or uhh…. Anyway, it’s a super cool riff and I think uses the sounds of “djent” and “progressive” metal really well. Super slinky, and right before your head figures where to bang, we’re off to the second chorus.
Following the second helping of the hook, the sound fades out and Superior takes us to an epic, almost sludgy section, with some tapped high guitar parts filling in the high end.
After 50 or so seconds of epic sludge, the song switches back to the original, ultra-modern, ultra-edited, ultra-tight, feel and closes abruptly, not quite hitting the 3:30 mark.
Overall, it’s totally worth a listen. For a sub-genre that I usually dismiss as something for highschoolers and skinny people, Superior keep it interesting. This song doesn’t feel like an excuse to write a hook for the underage girls, or to make flat-bill-cap clad boys wait for a generic, crab-walk breakdown. The song changes constantly, and other than the two choruses, I don’t think there are any parts that repeat. Neat!
But…..for a band that is so obviously aided by a skilled audio editor and the use of lots (and lots!) of digital processing, where is the high end in the track? The first time I listened to it, I got about a minute into it before I realized there wasn’t going to be a big break and the blanket was going to come off the mix. Maybe cymbals would detract from the bass drops, I’m not a mixing guy, what the f*ck do I know?
The band releases their album on May 17th at Sokol Underground. The show also includes “local support” from Architect or Arsonist, Fallible, and Ironsights. The (Sad) Earth release show is presented by Blacklist, which is, according to their facebook page, “… a movement against the manipulation of the tobacco industry and the damage it does to our world.”
But even if you have to leave your smokes at home….
…get out and pay some cover charges!