Lion of the North - The Compass Calls (Cover Artwork)

Lion of the North

The Compass Calls (2007)

Common Grounds

When it comes to music, few things are more annoying than discovering an enjoyable band after they've broken up. Especially when said band only managed a few releases before splitting up. Unfortunately, this sort of practice is more of a rule than an exception in the screamo genre, as many bands of this type tend to be active for just two or three years before disbanding to pursue other projects. But sometimes, when such a band consists of very talented youngsters who released one hell of record during their brief stint together, these negatives just don't matter as much. Lion of the North is such a band.

During their two years of activity, the five-piece hailing from Nortwest, Indiana released one split with Mans and one EP named The Compass Calls. The latter release was a tremendous record that should have received a lot more attention from unconventional hardcore fanatics and other music misfits out there.

The Compass Calls starts with a cool sample from the critically-acclaimed TV show The Office and takes off after a few seconds into a maze of violent riffs and authentic 'skramz' vocals. Similar to many bands in this genre, the songs here balance between gentle compositions and destructive assaults. Although this rather simple scheme is repeated throughout the whole record, it never becomes redundant. To the contrary, the band's key of success on this album is the dozens of pleasant surprises that follow every chord. The second track, "Point Me to Providence" showcases these aspects beautifully, an utterly thrilling track that builds up in a crescendo and uses dual/gang vocals to trigger the listener's attention. These multiple vocals are ingeniously used in a related manner during last track "There's Always Next Year," one of the most amazing ending tracks I've ever heard.

Lyrically, the band doesn't stand out like bands such as Orchid or Saetia, but at least the pretension critique these bands received doesn't apply to Lion of the North. These guys did a good job translating their youthfulness and all the hassles of becoming young adults in a hostile world into their music. This little self-reflection makes The Compass Calls a rather accessible and recognizable piece of music, despite its chaotic and obnoxious nature.

Like I already said, it's a shame this band disbanded, because they had potential and god knows what else they could have achieved. Yet there's no need to mourn. With this instant classic, 11-minute EP, Lion of the North proves cleverly to all lovers and critics together that refinement can go hand in hand with an unpolished DIY aesthetic, and all of this without having to compete. This is a must-have for screamo aficionados.