Okay readers, I’m not even going to ease into this, because holy hell—Samsara’s debut EP Bloodlines is fucking AMAZING.
Damn. Samsara, if you’re reading this, you’re fucking KILLING it.
Before I even begin to describe what Samsara sounds like, let me dedicate a paragraph to how my mind was processing this album. I started off with the first song—as any sensible person would—and listened thinking, “Hm, classic good metalcore. Vocals sound like those of Kublai Khan. Yep, this song will probably end up being my favorite one.” PSYCH!—as soon as the second song begins, I start to think, “Shit! This is a good one, too.” And now I’m wondering where the game-changer of this album is going to be. Or, in my mind, “This is all going to be good, I can feel it. Everything will be so close. How am I going to write this review?” I’m feeling like I’m probably in a rut, that I’d soon have the hardest time picking out my favorite song from the album.
Well, I was somewhat right- that is, until “Dear Brethren” comes on (let me use “Dear Brethren” as an example of how the band sounds; how it stands out).
So this finicky little gem “Dear Brethren” comes on, and it starts off with a somewhat softer-sounding guitar part; it gives off descending ocean vibes with only a hint of edge. So, you can imagine, I’m thinking, “Oh? Not the best idea, but all right.”
By the minute mark, I’ve made up my mind, thinking, “Fuck, this is the worst song. Called it.” But little ol’ me is unsuspecting and in for another surprise, because the song progresses to the middle mark (about 2:30 is what I’ll discuss next), by which point I realize, “Okay, never mind!” For it’s at this point that the lead vocalist begins to add a merciless barrage of his carnivorous vocals, which he does so well. His vocals evoke a sense of carnivorous chewing and dragging, a somehow clean gnashing of teeth then pushed outward through a predator’s canines, that projects real volume and depth. These vocals are so pervasive throughout most of the songs on the album and they’re brilliant.
So, as I mentioned, I find myself loving the 2:30 mark. “Maybe the song won’t be so bad after all?” I think.
By the 3:15 mark, the opening guitar riff, which previously sounded so ocean-surfer-like and out of place, begins to make sense: it fits with the grieving emotion that is now starting to grow clearer, and it conveys to listeners a sense of vulnerability coupled with outside anger and despair.
The song is now currently at about the same ‘like!’ level as the other songs.
But now, the clean vocals, which were previously so soft, come in again, a little more aggressively than earlier but still melodically. And, let me tell you, these vocals are a very welcome change in sound, because this style is absolutely perfect for the shift in the middle of the song: we hit the 3:45 mark with the dirty lead vocals coming in again. Here, behold the perfect melding of two voices—melodic and pleading, pained and sullen and choleric—and we see with utter clarity that the song is about one person’s despair over the loss of a loved one. This one character seems to have two parts to his feelings—of course, as conveyed clearly through the sound of the two voices sung out and playing off each other.
By now, I’ve made a complete reversal from my initial thoughts on the song; I’m utterly stunned. I’m thinking, “Fuck, this is my favorite song,” because the beautiful intertwining of two very different raw emotions comes together beautifully.
I’m so utterly blown away. And it only gets better from here.
All right, Samsara: You, whoever you are—drummer and lead vocalist and guitarist?—you guys ROCK. Literally. Because at the 4:10 minute mark and onward, the crashing cymbals are timed oh-so perfectly with the utter raw emotion of the dirty vocals. Those cymbals add just the right amount of sparseness—they’re struck with just the right amount of force—so as to emphasize, to accentuate, the raw emotion. The inner loneliness, the wishful longing, the sheer grief of the character/singer. God… Breathtaking.
When those vocals end on a downward exhale at around 4:25, they hit you like a fucking train, those feelings. I’m fucking blown away like I’ve never been before from a metalcore song’s raw emotions—and I never thought I’d say ‘blown away by emotions’ in the same sentence as ‘metalcore song.’ After this downward exhale, the guitar rings out a few sparkling, ringing notes—sparsely like the drums—and the mellowness echoes and lingers until fading, a beautiful way to close the whole storm of emotions I just witnessed. No, not witnessed—experienced; I felt it, too.
Goddammit, this song is a fucking masterpiece. It’s amazing how Samsara managed to convey such an array of emotions through sound alone—no sight, no touch, nothing else. Just sound.
So, in my description of “Dear Brethren,” I hope you feel it all: how Samsara likes to create emotion, how they craft the rest of their songs as well. And it works—hell, it does.
I urge you to throw this album on and stop whatever you’re doing to sit back and give this EP Bloodlines a good, hard listen. You’re going to feel more than you would’ve thought you would, and far more than you can hear. You can thank me later! (Ruth Xing)
For Fans Of: The Ghost Inside, Fit For A King, Wage War