Kill the Signal - A Study of Altitude (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Kill the Signal

A Study of Altitude (2006)

Bad Giraffe

Last time we saw Kill the Signal was late in 2005, and the young trio was doing their best Hot Water Music impression, yielding surprisingly solid results. It was a rough effort, but one that showed a wealth of promise for the band's future. A year went by, and now the band has a proper full-length called A Study of Altitude and we're able to see just how much the additional time has seasoned them.

The first track bodes very well for them, as I'm immediately reminded of underappreciated Deep Elm bands such as Benton Falls and Cross My Heart. They've dropped a little bit of the speed and a little bit of aggression, but now have a much more full and much more multi-faceted approach to songwriting that has made quite a bit of difference. And don't let the phrase "dropped a bit of aggression" fool you, because these guys still have one foot placed firmly on the throttle at all times, it's just a matter of the vocals being scaled back enough to fit the more mid-tempo rhythms. The gruff delivery still carries plenty of melody, and the backing vocals really fill things out. That's where they've improved more than anything, in the ability to make the vocals work with whatever kind of rhythm or approach they're bringing to a specific track.

They sound just as home with the disjointed riffs of "Are You Laughing at Us Now?" as they do with the more traditional approach used in "Skeleton Key." In both instances, the one-two vocal punch is used to guide the rest of the instrumentation, rather than serve just as an accent. The latter of those two tracks packs quite a bit of music into only a three-minute duration, as after the brief intro the vocals and a drum roll start to move things along, and the passionate vocals ride the discordance all the way through. "Old Habits" builds slowly before exploding into a ball of energy about a minute into the track, with emphatic shouts rising above the heavy strumming and pounding of the drums.

It's nice to see a band make solid progression as Kill the Signal have done between releases. They're still a bit away from really releasing something special, but they have the inherent drive and talent that it'll take to do so when they get down that road. In the meantime, the ride to get there ain't half-bad either.