Sparrows - Cold Ground (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Cold Ground (2013)

Broken Heart/Kat Kat Records

After managing to scrape a copy of Sparrow's 2011 EP Goliath, I recognized tinges of Thrice, Sparta and not-so-subtle post-hardcore influences that caught my attention. Giving Cold Ground a go was definitely in the cards because I had liked what I heard on that EP. Sparrows offered a lot of promise, and while this LP isn't too shabby at all, it slightly misses its mark on fully delivering. While not consistently weak, it takes a while to kick into gear and does so only in the latter stages. The production's balance slightly threw me for a loop and somehow, I couldn't get past this.

"Belly Full" and "Apostasy" echo the despondent, somber elements on which Sparrows thrive. Dan Thomson and Devlin Morton's guitars are the strengths of the band and the rest of the band play off this dynamic quite well, with Thomson's grainy vocals fitting in nicely. Even the dual vocals employed on "Sever Your Roots" are fixated smoothly for the listener, but what detracts the most is that these opening few tracks come off as a little derivative, not necessarily bringing anything new to the already-crowded post-hardcore genre.

"Sights and Sounds" tries to cut this deficit with its instrumental bridge and succeeds. It serves as a great segue into the latter half of the record, where there's more fluidity. The touches of screamo and hard rock are better combined on songs like "Sleepwalkers" and "White Flag." On these, Sparrows' range is explored more and the band display a little more personality and diversity. There's more musical freedom, which is indicative of what Sparrows could eventually be. From a slow start, the album ends with a nice pick-up of momentum. Did it come too late? Maybe. I'd have liked more of this balance and tempo that came at the end, but it's still worth a listen.