We are kinetic and directional creatures that thrive on structure and routine. We devise schedules, maps, and other micro-manageable sequences in an effort to establish a maintainable and customizable order that best fits our ever-expanding aspirations. That’s why the feeling of being “stuck in limbo” can unleash a path of devastation that can derail even the most ambitious and fluid of dreamers. For those of you who have the luxury of never experiencing such a phenomenon, being stuck in limbo can best be equated to being stuck in a form of stasis within an ambiguous void. It’s as if you exist on a different plane that floats between two realms. Most people become exhausted, broken, and drained from the lack of directionality, thereby rooting themselves to the immobilizing ground upon which they stand. A rare few can recognize their situation and, despite all odds, create something from it. Among these driven few stands Denny Ranno’s solo project, Tidus Is Alive. The one-man band’s debut EP, Stuck In Limbo, features a masterful blend of pop-punk and post-hardcore that is bursting at the seams with a contagious amount of energy.
The album opens with “Step Aside”, an explosive track that burns with an undying amount of energetic musicality. A rumbling fade-in intro fast approaches before trampling your ears with a stampede of explosive riffs and pulsating percussion. Denny Ranno’s poppy, energetic riffs flourish and melt into fast-paced riffage and heavy chugging as intermittent melodic overlays and squeals playfully tug at your ears. Pulsating percussion built upon an amazing display of cymbal play and footwork adds a driving energy and rhythmic intensity that will pierce through your soul and captivate your eardrums. Ranno utilizes a brilliant blend of raw mid screams and clean vocals to make emotive verses, catchy choruses, and allow his overall vocal delivery to do exactly what it was meant to do: soar freely. Enthusiastic and lively breakdowns frequent this track, featuring a dynamic display of unison-shouted vocals and screams against flawless instrumentation. The sheer amount of energy, passion, and masterful technicality and musicality that abounds throughout the whole duration of this track earns “Step Aside” its place as the album’s absolute stand-out track.
Up next is “Checkmate”, a groovy, anthemic track that will infect your ears with passionate riffs and emotive verses. A groovy mixture of melodic riffs, grooving bass lines, and bouncy percussion immediately greet your ears from the moment you press play. Melodic chords wrestle back and forth with deep, thundering chugging to create a vibrant aural balance of harmony and discord. Lightly sustained melodic licks and driving percussion gently nip at your ears as they sail overtop the hail of emotive, fast-paced riffage. Ranno puts a primary spotlight on his clean vocals with tasteful hints of raw screams accenting his smooth, emotive vocal delivery. Spastic interludes of heavy riffage are tastefully scattered about before reaching culmination in the form of a groovy, mosh-inducing, enthusiastic breakdown that is guaranteed to produce massive head-banging to the point of whiplash with every well-placed chug, hit, kick, and scream.
The album closes with “Robin”, a ballad that best showcases Denny Ranno’s softer side as he flexes his pop-punk prowess. Heavy riffs quickly fade in and take on a new form of melodic, toe-tapping chord progressions decorated with flecks of sustained notes and melodic overlays. Driving percussion is neither overpowering nor dull as every one of Ranno’s aptly crafted kicks, hits, and crashes perfectly complements the rest of the instrumentals. Once again, Ranno showcases his clean vocals and adds harmonies, muted effects, and sparsely-placed screams to give his vocal delivery a more emotive, relatable quality. What truly makes this track special is Ranno’s attention to smaller details to give the track more depth, such as an interlude in which sung notes replace distorted riffs, the utilization of lightly-crafted harmonies, and brief instrumental pauses for a more balanced, emotive affectation. The result is the kind of catchy, fun pop-punk ballad that your ears so desperately need.
Overall, TIdus Is Alive has created one of the most energetic split-genre releases of this year. Stuck In Limbo, despite its title, is the farthest thing from being stuck in limbo- it very clearly boasts its liveliness and fluidity with every energetic verse and catchy chorus. What’s most outstanding about this album- besides the fact that it was created in its entirety by one musician- is Ranno’s instrumental and vocal attention to detail to give the album the kind of depth that other pop-punk bands merely dream of. If Tidus Is Alive can create such vibrant musicality from being stuck in limbo, just imagine what the band can create once freed from such an uneasy and static state of being. (Katt Hass)
For Fans Of: Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, A Day to Remember, Hero To Human, The Day After, Well Planned Attack