steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"The Dawning" CD

Avebury Records

Genre: post-hardcore

June 2006

You can't accuse Stereotactic of aiming low. Their slickly produced debut album is entitled "The Dawning." Its cover features a statue of Jeebus on the cross in a graveyard, presumably symbolizing some people's lord and savior being reborn from ashes, and there's a shot of the band members striking a rockstar pose in front of a cross-like tree. The title track is a minute-long opener that consists of a couple of guitar solos and one refrain: "The time has come for them to see. You all will know. You all will see now." And indeed, it doesn't take long to know and see that the Tactic are a technically sound band that proudly wear their '80s metal allegiances on their sleeves (and liner notes) while tackling more recent subject matter and even showing their prog-rock influences occasionally.

This band gets compared frequently to Thrice (and zillions of their interchangeable contemporaries), but musically, I have them pegged as a less exuberant version of Alexisonfire. Like Dallas Green and Co., they use double-barrelled vocals on practically every track here, usually to great harmonic and emotional effect, and there are some catchy sing-along choruses that would not look out of place at all on any modern rock radio station's playlist. Unfortunately, The Dawning's lyrics were clearly an afterthought, replete with the standard stabbery ("The blade, the blood, the pain, the ache. Put the steel across my wrist, but there's one more breath inside," from "Pt. 2 (His Perspective)") and gougery ("Sitting here with my eyes gouged out, the memories of color leaves (sic) me now," from "Pt. 2" again) and head-scratching philosophizery ("You don't live long, you've gotta be strong / You've hit the bottom, it won't be long," from the cringeworthily excessive tear-jerker "Lost and Found") that characterize so many efforts in this genre and damage their replay value. This is frustrating, because the Tactic have a promising gift for melody and a willingness to buck musical clichés, as well as the ability to pop the occasional monster solo (the breakdown at the end of "The Fall of Max Cohen" comes to mind). It all comes together on the closing track, "Sweet Denial... with a Taste of Revenge" (love that irony), the best song here, which sees the Tactic crank the energy up to its highest levels. The result is a fun if angsty rave-up that suggests more powerfully than any glamorous photo could that Stereotactic is just getting started.

MP3s (from Dead Men


A.J. Gregory

[Vitals: 12 tracks, distributed by the label, released Sep 6 2005]