by theseseans (NYC)
Download: Sakes Alive!! - "The Open Maw" [MP3]
Following their excellent Act I, upstate New York's Sakes Alive!! deliver Act II, second in a three-part seven-inch series. Within the string of releases, Sakes Alive!! spread a full-length's worth of material over three seven-inches, each released on a different label. Act II follows Act I in general terms of style: melodic punk rock with a healthy dose of vocalist Chris Vandeviver's blackened howl. The songs themselves, however, are much darker. Said Vandeviver:
I view each seven-inch as part of a "trilogy". For example, Star Wars has "A New Hope," which is the solid, classic 'hero-saving-the-day' type of movie ("Act I.") The sequel is always a cliff-hanger of sorts. "Empire Strikes Back" gets dark, and we're not so sure where the hell things are gonna go – Han Solo is frozen, Luke's father is Darth Vader, the team is separated, etc... – ("Act II.") That's where we are in our trilogy.On their own, these songs are peculiar, lacking the movement of Act I's natural surge and swell. "The Open Maw" begins with low-fi everything only to explode after Vandeviver delivers an indecipherable intro. "Big Bang" uses unexpected minimalism as the song drifts between a lack of guitar to awkward guitar melodies and a verse/chorus that seem almost one. "Image Of Modern Man" doesn't seem like a closer, but maybe that's the point. When looking at these songs as the middle part of a full-length, "Image Of Modern Man" works perfectly; the song doesn't feel like an end, it makes me want more. The Empire Strikes Back, indeed.
Act II doesn't have the bite of an explosive beginning or the closure of a well-paced end. It does, however, display strong and creative songwriting, capable of style-blending without sacrifice. After listening to Act II, I am left with the strong desire for Act III. For that alone, this release is a resounding success.
Complete with a lyric sheet inside, the packaging for Act II is simple but very effective. The graphics are busy and present details easy to overlook, but the artistic scope never out goes beyond it's means. At the end of the day, this is a 7" and the art work is simple enough to be appropriate, to not feel excessive or get wrapped up in it's own complexity.
[Pre-Order]: Sakes Alive!! - Act II