ALBUM REVIEW: WASTED SPACE – NEVER ODD OR EVEN

These guys never cease to amaze with their constant, consistent blending of styles. The new EP, Never Odd or Even kicks off with a soothing instrumental showcasing some bright clean guitar, and melody on bass. From there, ambient clean vocals drop in to further enhance the ensuing melodies. The drums have a jazzy feel here, gradually building before things get nice and chaotic in typical Wasted Space form.

Screeching harsh vocals, distorted chords, and heavy rhythmic drums suddenly attack from nowhere, alternating with more bombastic clean vocals meant to continue the established melody from the track’s introduction passage. This opening song is called “Gone Now I’m Guessing” – aptly named, since with its abrupt ending, you’ll be left guessing what comes next.

The album progresses with “The First Time I Met You”. A catchy, distorted melodic riff leads the charge, setting the tone for higher, erratic harsh vocals reminiscent of the earlier works of Glassjaw and The Chariot. I suppose even the heavily reverbed, atmospheric clean vocals spread across the entire EP are also a heavy reminder of Glassjaw’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence, just to name one comparative example. All in all, this is a very straightforward song compared to the abrupt changeling of an album opener we just heard. “The First Time I Met You” seems to intentionally toggle back and forth between a heavy, polyrhythmic verse complimented by harsh vocals, and a melodious, reverb laden chorus with ever thickening clean vocals, at least until we arrive at the bridge. Just when we thought we’d figured this one out, Wasted Space throw in some old school mosh with a crushing downtempo riff in the lower register, topped with some punishing, borderline guttural vocals. It’s one of those sections where you can picture a standing room at a live show just exploding with movement. They’ll be “fighting the invisible ninjas” to this part, I assure you.

“My Mind Decaying” is this EP’s brilliant 3rd installment. Dark, dissonant chords highlight the opening riff, accenting with the snare drum. This passage will give the listener an instant reminder of the earliest works of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge. The vocals are more spontaneous and spoken word oriented this time around. Imagine a heated argument in your kitchen, as opposed to a typical metal vocal arrangement. The “talking/yelling vocals” don’t last long however, and we’re back to eerie, sliding guitars in the higher register, and in odd time signatures, while the harsh vocals perfectly convey the idea of dementia as the song title implies. I really like the chorus riff in this song. Vocally, the song title pops up a lot in the chorus, while distorted guitars are playing a very sticky melody backed by simple 4/4 rock drumming. It’s definitely a “less is more” moment for the EP, and it makes for an infectious earworm.

The EP closes with track 4, “Easier Than You’d Expect”. This one has some serious groove. It’s heavy, slamming, catchy, and aggressive vocally all in one. Complete with some “Southern twang” if you will, when considering the bends and note arrangements on guitar, parts of this song even remind me of Every Time I Die’s heavier work on say, Hot Damn!. And yet again, this is another song with an extremely catchy chorus driven by a sticky clean vocal melody and a simple, “less is more” guitar riff. Sometimes all you need is a few recognizable chords to land home in 4/4 timing to get your audience moving. But don’t think it’s all fun and games at the Wasted Space band room. These guys have plenty of odd time signatures, abrupt transitions, and funky, warped sounding segues to keep those math rock fans happy. And wouldn’t you know it? Wasted Space decided to close out the final track with the same clean guitar part I was just raving about at the start of track 1. So, now that we’ve musically come full circle, I guess it’s time to wrap this up.

If you remember the instrumental band, Squatch, you’ll be familiar with the roots of Wasted Space. This is a band we’ve been following for years now, even if the name, Wasted Space, seems new to some of you. It’s always a pleasure to take a journey with these fine folks, and if you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned artists, definitely pick this EP up when it drops on May 21. You can also catch the dudes live at a brand-new venue on Main St. in Buffalo on March 18th, at DOUSED IN DEATH – a 2-day event hosted by our pals at Noise Dosage Media. Check the flyer below for info:

Wasted Space are:

Drums – Collin Folger

Guitar/Bass – Jeremy Swartwout

Vocals – Matt Lupkin

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