By Robin X Steeley
From the beginning, Portland, Oregon’s The Without’s music bounces along in a contagious barrage, rocking here, and melting faces there, infecting you with a powerful groove along the way. The band is comprised of drummer Joseph Graham, Bass player Wade Nelson, Guitarists Adam Smith and Spencer Arnold, and frontman extraordinaire Michael Draper. This EP is an excellent debut on every level. They are as thrashingly heavy as they are listenable; this music is relatable to a diverse crowd. I hate to use the term ‘crossover’ but this band’s music will certainly reach across the expectations of combining metal with melodic, edgy rock. The dynamics, musicianship, and pure synergy as a whole combined with the unique range of ability of frontman Michael Draper is an aural assault. The vocals are a standout throughout this effort, delivering the transitions effortlessly, from heavy to melodic with seamless energy. Catchy enough to make it on the radio is the song “Play Tricks.” With an explosive intro, followed by a chorus so memorable it will stay with you forever. I could NOT get this song out of my head! METAL, PUNK, POST-HARDCORE, call it what you will, THIS Rocks!
The band draws from so many musical influences which can be heard while still creating a unique sound that defies easy comparison to any artist. They bring a DIY attitude, and a polished energetic thrash and groove to the table. The vocals are clean one moment, breathy the next, singing, thrashing, rocking in the deep vein of the heavy driving, edge of melodic rock and roll. This formula is apparent on tune “Dead Gold” which superbly winds all the unique aspects of this edgy but current rock outfit.
The evocative quality of the next song “Two Wolves” may surprise you, with its atmospheric build up and impressive guitar and percussion work. It’s underscored by a thunderous bassline and impressive vocal delivery complete with breakdowns. Next track, the layered “Rat Party” is not straightforward metal, but is far heavier then rock and hits you with an intensity that will leave you waiting for the next note. They strike a beautiful balance in between genres and that theme is seen throughout this release.
On a tight schedule THE WITHOUT managed to pull this EP together in five days, recording alongside Stephan Hawkes (Atilla, Chelsea Grin) and make a debut sound as good as a polished label release. The band came crashing out of the gates at such a breakneck pace, a solid buzz around their release, a sold out debut show, and an offer to play the main stage at this years Warped Tour, there may be no limits to what these Pacific Northwest rockers can do. At its core, the music is brilliantly crafted, with solid infectious hooks, outstanding musicianship, and the stage presence to create something exceptional. There is nothing ordinary about this band, who push musical boundaries with songs full of tangible emotions; swinging from the rocking vibe in “Dead Cold” to the Thrashing guttural anthem of “Rat Party,” this EP has no filler and is a brilliant example of what this local supergroup is capable of. For more information check out www.thewithout.com