In Pieces - Lions Write History (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

In Pieces

Lions Write History (2005)

Escape Artist

A lot can change in just three years time. The Enron scandal and molestations by the Catholic church were at the top of the news world, "Chicago" was being billed as movie of the year, and Alicia Keys was still famous. It was amongst that mess that In Pieces released their 2002 album Learning To Accept Silence under most people's radars. Well, at the midway point in 2005, Kenneth Lay is not quite as well off as he was during his tenure as Enron's CEO, I still want to have sex with Catherine Zeta Jones, and I can no longer name a single Alicia Keys song, In Pieces, however, have come rampaging back into the scene with a new sound, and a new record, Lions Write History.

With new vocalist Dan Barrett at the helm of this ship, the band has hoisted new flags, changed course, and beefed up their range and artillery. This is a whole new war. Equally in tune to senses of harmony and rage, Barrett shifts sonic climates along with his bandmates and glides along the delicate balance between subdued melodies and harsh screaming. Don't be confused, however, by that description; this isn't a band to be put in league with Story Of The Year and the Used; those bands are Little League, and In Pieces are playing in the majors. The band has a renewed sense of what they're able to accomplish, and they push boundaries and song structures farther than they ever would have attempted three years ago. They've ditched the formulaic verse and chorus approach in light of more experimentalism. These songs are layered, and these songs are refined, never losing their sense of melody; they can, in a moment's notice, rage against the balance they had built up to that point.

Lions Write History achieves that balance that bands hope for, and tip-toes that highwire that countless bands have fallen from. The guitars give out lush, rich tones one moment, and gritty, overbearing power the next, but it's all absolutely seamless. That seamlessness gives this album a lot of the atmosphere it's fueled on, but can also give out a good bite when it needs to. The flow of an album can really be the determinate factor on whether it's enjoyable or not, and the flow here provides most of its best moments.

Neither side of the band's personality dominates the other, and neither side ever seems out of place as often happens with singing and screaming combinations. Since Barrett handles both singing and screaming, he can control the amount of both, so neither side can overtake the other. "Night Of The Long Knives" shows the band's softer side, as Barrett crafts his voice perfectly around the instrumentation, and his words sound sincere. Just as sincere are Barrett's words while screaming, and fortunately, he picks his spots on this record as far as the screaming is concerned. "No Letter, No Note" seems to have a fairly relaxed vibe to it, but it's also got a fair amount of punch when the guitars really kick into gear and the screaming begins. "Age Of Oceans" is the standout track here, and is sandwiched right in the middle of the record. It shows In Pieces at their most cohesive state, balancing the melodic guitars and the more fast-paced moments, ending amidst some of the album's strongest screaming. This is also one of the strongest songs lyrically, with some solid lines that really just fit at the time they're sung, such as the music halting for Barrett to say "The age of oceans…has passed," and the repetition at the end of "we all get what we deserve, of men."

"True And False Guilt" closes things out, the most bi-polar of the tracks on this album, transitioning between sing and scream at will throughout its course, until slowly building up and unleashing in a fit of fury at the end, an excellent way to end things.

In the three years since Enron went down faster than Anna Nicole Smith on 85-year-old penis, In Pieces has been changing their lineup, changing their sound, and putting out one hell of a record. Album of the year thus far still goes to Funeral Diner, but this album is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else in the band's discography, and I can only see them further progressing for the better from here on out.