“REMISSION” – The Black String Theory (review)

It says a lot about Scott van Dort that his band, The Black String Theory, even have an album being released. Newcomers to the music scene have an impossibly hard time of getting recognition, what with the massive competition from others in the same boat and everyone fighting against the continued tragic success of TV talent shows. That’s not to say this album release was a lucky coincidence, however. It’s true for anything that you cannot simply sit and wait for prosperity to come to you but in the music industry maintaining a proactive approach to self-promotion is an absolute necessity, and the guys behind The Black String Theory certainly know how to promote themselves through social networks.

But perhaps it should come as no surprise that The Black String Theory know how to fight to make themselves heard: their debut album, REMISSION, explores the life of post-adolescence, that age when you’re supposed to grow up and settle down and stop daydreaming about naïve things. As the band themselves say, REMISSION is about “the yearning to find one’s place in the world.” Such a grandiose statement from a band often described as dark and edgy and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s another band who are presumptious and pretentious but are actually bland and boring. But van Dort’s vocals, particularly on the softer, piano-based tracks, “These Things” and “Finding the Grey,” towards the end of the album, become incredibly haunting, like Thom Yorke on prozac. Comparisons to Radiohead are not unfavourable but The Black String Theory are far livelier and less experimental; more akin to Muse (and vocal comparisons to Matt Bellamy are inevitable) than the OK Computer legends. The Los Angeles-based outfit are perhaps most similar to Keane but without that air of pompousness.
As an album, REMISSION is very well-crafted, seizing you from the cleverly-titled opener, “Intro(spection),” taking you through the catchy and powerful first single, “This Clouded View,” to the anthemic heights of “A Lifelong Mystery” and out through the aforementioned softer piano tracks, ending with a stunning acoustic version of “A Lifelong Mystery,” which is as good a song as you’ll hear all year. In an era when critics are bemoaning the death of the album, Grammy-award winning mixing engineer Chris Testa (Jimmy Eat World, Switchfoot) and mastered by Tim Young (Editors, The Kooks) at Metropolis Studios in London, REMISSION is a grand achievement.

If the great band name and the graceful use of social media aren’t enough to draw you into their dark, brooding world, let The Black String Theory’s music take you there. Just be careful because you won’t want to leave.

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