Sparta - Austere (Cover Artwork)


Austere (2002)



Fear plagues me as I place this 2002 Dreamworks release into my player. Did Jim Ward have anything to do with the genius of ATDI? Were Cedric and Omar the true brains? Should I be spending my time tracking down DEFACTO re-mixes? DID I SPEND MY FIVE DOLLARS IN VAIN??????


I can't bring myself to listen past the first 1 and 1/2 minutes of the first track. It sounds real tight and very reminiscent of ATDI and there is a clever use of a double dub of Ward's voice to create a electronic feel, but I just can't do it.

Days pass. The minute and 1/2 I heard plagues my dreams and I wake up feeling paranoid; devoid of any quality sleep.

First hour. Second hour. Do you feel my pain? Third hour. Doyou feel mypain? Fourth hour. Doyoufeel mypain? Fifth hour.

In the middle of Sociology I heed my turmoil and sprint outside and into my car. Turning the key toward myself, I make the arrangements to hear "austere."

For the next four tracks I am emotionally, spiritually and mentally involved in the roller coaster of music that is SPARTA.

To be blunt, which is a characteristic I rarely display, "Austere," is the best EP since CURSIVE's "Burst And Bloom." Ward and company have obviously taken an interest in THE FIREBIRD BAND, with their interplay of live and simulated drums. Stealing some of the more aggresive parts of "Kid A," most songs have a driving, steering-wheel-pounding-theme. The dual guitars do absolutely nothing different than ATDI, but do an excellent job at imitating the licks on "Relationship Of Command."

As for Ward's voice, he obviously had a lot more influence in the direction of ATDI than any of us could have expected. Remember "Cut away, cut away?" That was Ward. He does a fine job of fusing his cookie-cutter basement hardcore ferocity and his cookie-cutter basement emo flat-ness. The product is predictable, but very enjoyable.

One aspect that is particularly refreshing, these songs are very lyrically undecipherable, but we know that they aren't about girls. They aren't about girls.

They aren't about girls.

Did you hear that? It was the sigh of thousands of jaded scensters breathing relief and the wimper of thousands of 13 year old "emo-kids" in gas station jackets and black-rimmed glasses, but quickly popping in RUFIO and singing along happily.

SPARTA is no match for DEFACTO or MARS VOLTA, but they need to be recognized and this reviewer would not be suprised if they were on Best Of The Year lists.