Rain Over Battle - The Full Effect of Thunder (Cover Artwork)

Rain Over Battle

The Full Effect of Thunder (2009)


Please bear with me as I discuss the current state of music while saying nothing you haven't heard before, because I'm going to imply that the music being reviewed here is something special. Basically, since the Internet came about we've been able to hear hundreds more bands than we would have in the past. The members of those bands have had the same opportunity, so they've picked their favourites and found a particular sound to emulate, and we hear the product. Despite good intentions, many of these new bands wind up creating music that sounds clichéd and artificial. This happened in the past too, but we had the filter of "if it's not that great, it doesn't make it to our ears," whereas now we hear everything. If the music created lacks originality, it can still be well-received, but soon fades away into obscurity. If it's original but comes off forced, it will get a wide range of feedback based on each reviewer's naivety, and it won't solidify itself in music history. But if it's both unoriginal and forced, then the likelihood of long-term appeal is basically obliterated, and we the listeners are left feeling empty. All this staleness has left us with a longing for classic, fulfilling albums with as much staying power as those of the bands that got us into the music we love today. OK, screw it, I'll be blunt: There's way too fucking many bands trying to sound like Hot Water Music, Lucero, the Replacements, Against Me! and so on, and when it's not natural, it just sucks.

So now I'm left with the responsibility of defending why Rain Over Battle's EP, The Full Effect of Thunder, deserves to be set apart from all the contrived, unoriginal rehashes out there today. Note that just because the following comparisons can be made doesn't mean anyone is being ripped off. The similarities happen to be there but nothing is forced, which makes all the difference. So first of all, we've got singer Bennett Wales' wonderful voice and lyrics. The guy sings with the youthful, melodic gruffness of Dave Hause, combined with Brian Fallon's soulfulness and sense for delivery. He writes like a young Tom Gabel (likely inspired in part by his stint in juvy for arson), aptly intertwining political issues with personal struggles. These features were present in the early demos he recorded as a solo electric act, but what was missing there is now ably supplied by the addition of two new band members. One of them provides backing vocals reminiscent of Criteria (band, take note: more of this next time) and bass guitar, while the other plays the drums, and Bennett handles electric guitar. Together they craft well-developed songs with tempo changes aplenty, and enough variety in each track to keep you delightfully absorbed. This four-song EP clocks in at over 22 minutes, but even the punkest of us shouldn't get bored or anxious while listening. Seriously, although these songs are longer than what is standard for the genre, it's much harder to lose interest here than with other similar bands.

Here is where I should talk about each track on an individual basis, but this thing is running long enough and as I said above, the songs contain so much variation that I wouldn't know where to begin. Plus, I'm really not all that well-versed in music lingo, so I would likely just embarrass myself. How about this: There's some slow parts; some fast parts; some soulful parts; some driving parts; some neat echo-ey parts...there's lots of parts. Oh, and the transition from the last bit of the first song to the beginning of the second song is simply awesome. There, that seems good enough. Really though, your best bet is to just take a listen yourself.

And now, the verdict: did the above review manage to justify my calling this band "something special"? Taking into account all the namedrops and comparisons littering the above wall of text, it would be pretty hard to get away with calling them unique. But that just seems to be the fault of unfortunate timing, as something makes me believe that this EP would sound no different were it released years ago. If that were the case, it would be the imitated and not the imitatee, but that is purely hypothetical and largely debatable, so I'll just wrap this up. Ultimately, it's the way you can actually hear the authenticity, passion and modesty in their songs that puts Rain Over Battle ahead of many of their forced-sounding peers. Even in the possibility that those qualities are subjective to the listener, the music itself is still more than capable to stand on its own.