So here's what I knew about I Am The Avalanche before hearing of this release: They featured former Movielife vocalist Vinnie Caruana and their earlier work left me feeling totally unmoved. The latter point was a surprise to me as I really liked Caruana's voice when he fronted the Movielife, as he was probably the one thing that stood out above everything else in that band.
Therefore, the trepidation was registering high on the scale when I got this to review. Although I had heard that the band had gotten a rougher quality to their sound these days, that could all have been a load of PR BS. "Holy Fuck," however, shows that the band seem to have grown a collective pair. Caruana's voice has switched from a slightly (and I mean "slightly") gruffer version of his vocals a la the Movielife's This Time Next Year, regaining that missing allure.
The more relaxed and reflective "Brooklyn Dodgers" follows and this continues the improvement which I feel I Am The Avalanche have displayed at the outset of this album. From there on in, it's a case of one good song after another with heaps of energy and good guitar work whilst Caruana pulls out the stops to provide a vocal performance that really sends shivers down my spine as he has a very emotive quality about his delivery.
Lyrically, a lot of what this album contains is of a personal nature dealing with all levels of life that many of us encounter during our time on this planet. This adds to what I find enjoyable about the record as it's always good to be able to feel some sort of kinship with what you're listening to. The only time I find the lyrics don't work is in "Brooklyn Dodgers" where there is a, to me, clunky part when Caruana sings "I mention my dad because" after having just â?¦. well, mentioned his dad. I know what he's saying but it just seems a bit obvious, unnecessary and forced. That minor criticism aside, I find Caruana's lyrics insightful and interesting.
With a sound that has got a strong basis in punk but with massive doses of melody, the comparisons to the Movielife are inevitable, To be honest the band must be expecting them, as, to me, it's certainly evident through listening to their music. Is that why I like this album? Maybe so to a degree, but regardless of who they might or might not sound like, this is quite an impressive record and a really pleasing surprise to boot.
Choice cuts on this platter would certainly include the aforementioned "Holy Fuck," "Dear Friends," "The Place You Love Is Gone" and the album closer "Gratitude." I'm not sure this is going to make me look back to their previous work to see if that somehow grows on me but I'll certainly be keeping up with anything they release in the future. I'll also be hoping to make the trip back to my native Wales to see them when they tour the UK towards the end of the year.