The show was slated to be as follows: On the Might of Princes, then the Blood Brothers, followed by Cursive. OTMOP was the only band I hadn't heard at the time; this was back in late 2003, but I had heard great things about their sound. Well, a hurricane that made it up to Long Island prevented them from leaving it, and subsequently, they dropped off the show. No big deal I thought, hadn't heard them anyhow.
How wrong I was.
A few months later, I actually got around to hearing the band, and was immediately upset that the chance to see them had slipped by. Worse, even, was the news not much farther that the group had disbanded. Thankfully, they did leave us with a few fantastic albums, and Where You Are and Where You Want to Be is the best of those. Frantic, impassioned, but with a terrific sense of instrumentation, the Long Island exports are able to truly grasp the concept of writing great songs. Bridging the gap between screamo and post-rock, all ten songs on the album, no matter the duration, simply feel epic. The song structures will completely engross you, and the entire album flows beautifully one song after the next. Delicate and yearning, harsh and spastic, you're never quite sure what direction the song is going to take next.
While things start off sort of slowly, with "You Can Only Be So Careful," the absolutely stellar "The Water vs. the Anchor" is perfectly indicative of great things to come. As some of you probably guessed from my user name, I do have a particular affinity for the song; its wide range of sounds and emotions is something to behold. The raw, underproduced sound of the album is reflected well here, as is the passion that OTMOP hold for the music that they play. Opening with some clean guitar and simple drum patterns, the tension in the song heightens the farther it goes along, and the vocal dynamics are absolutely top notch. Harsh textures, crashing guitars, and vocals perfectly suited for it, when people talk about the full package, this is the sort of thing they mean. "If I Knew Numbers" starts in a deceptively low-key manner, with more of that mood-driven, wistful clean guitar work, until exploding into a tight little ball of rage. A lot of people may see this as a tired formula, but before anything else, it's imperative that you know this album was recorded in 2000, and released January of 2001; they weren't cashing in on trends, they were helping to create it. And in any rite, this is the genuine article, where passion and talent share equal hands; this isn't an album produced for Hot Topic and mass consumption. "Cheers for Beers and Bullshit" is a track that also starts out in that similar fashion, but has many ups and downs before finally settling towards the end. But the band saved their strongest two tracks for last.
"An Allusion to Italy" takes the fury of Orchid with the guitar stylings of Forstella ford, or old This Day Forward, and expands on that for a good six minutes. The amazing guitar work dominates the duration, but the sporadic vocals inject some real vigor and conviction as well. Epic as it may be, "For Meg" closes out the album in dramatic and exemplary fashion. Starting out with a spoken word sample and quickly moving into a rhythmic swirl of bass, guitar, and drums, the shrieking vocals cascade in and out, while the guitar just picks up more and more and more in intensity; as loud as things get, it always gets louder, until just when you think your speakers will blow from the rumble, the album is over.
I truly wish more bands like this, more bands with an extreme passion for their music existed now. Through their words, vocals, and chord progressions, On the Might of Princes put out one of the finest albums of 2001, or any year after has seen. Buy it, cherish it, and just hope all you can that more bands will pick up where they so passionately left off.