Progressive/alternative/experimental rock band Quiet Child released their sixth album a couple weeks ago, another contribution to the amazing progressive albums that have filled the airwaves in 2015. Their latest release “The Ever Present Shadow” adds some heaviness to their discography, something only lightly treaded on in previous albums. Following a theme of understanding and coping with anxiety, I can feel the frustration and confusion created with the album, whether through its moody guitar work, passionate vocals, or heavy drumming. If you’re looking for some evocative music, then “The Ever Present Shadow” should be sought after.
Residing in Australia, Quiet Child is yet another Aussie rock band well worth a listen. Falling in line with other notable bands like Karnivool, Caligula’s Horse, and Dead Letter Circus, band leader Peter Spiker contributes his talent to a genre known for its ability and complexity. Those same two words can describe “The Ever Present Shadow,” being what I believe is a metaphor to describe the fear that lurks in one’s mind. More experimental than many Aussie rock albums mentioned on this site, I was captivated with how truly “progressive” this album is. This is evidenced in the song “A Good Plan,” which shifts between melodic, softer sections and harder, growl filled choruses. Between both sides of the spectrum is a third point of an experimental nature, characterized by the chromatic scales, pick-scratching and sound manipulated bridge sections. There are many moments where songs are interrupted to change the tempo and direction of the album, which at times could be frustrating to listeners but at others times could help drive the meaning of a particular song.
As described by Peter himself, this album is the hardest release to date, which I feel matches the mood set by the concept. The ten minute track “Worry” begins with deep, overdriven rhythms and dirty vocals reminiscent of bands like Tool and Deftones. Another song ”Cloth And Chloroform” highlights the low and deep bass guitar with some distortion to it. Finally, the song “Calm Versus Chaos” shows how Spiker can integrate heavier and softer sections together, using groovy drum beats and heavy guitar riffs. With multiple breakdowns throughout the album, one can feel that ever present shadow creep under their own skin, wondering in which direction the album will go: soft or hard? Melodic or brutal? That’s part of the fun of this album, as even with multiple listens I still am surprised with all the twists and turns.
Spiker’s voice, although not as strong as some other Australian progressive rock bands I listen to, meets the passion and style necessary for this album. Reminding me of a mix between Ian Kenny of Karnivool and Matthew Bellamy of Muse, the listener is able to feel the fear and anger in Spiker’s mid-to-high ranged voice during key moments in the album. I believe the closing track “Hobbled” portrays his voice at its best, which particularly contains some of the “softer” sections on the album. With a long two minute introduction using clean guitar and a heavy arrangement in the chorus, Spiker approaches the listener with a softer voice filled with minor notes before jumping into a screaming delivery of the song’s chorus. The juxtaposition of both vocal deliveries help the listener to feel the ultimate highs and lows of the album in just a single song. The song ends suddenly with sinister sounding pianos and reversed guitar patterns, seamlessly drawing this album to a close as the listener wonders if they just woke up from a nightmare.
“The Ever Present Shadow” is a musical journey of ups and downs, highs and lows. One minute you’re trapped in the experimentation like tangled wires, the next you’re floating on the melodic rhythms, and then immediately reach for protection from the crashing drums and chords. Quiet Child excels in trapping the listener and rewarding them with an enjoyable album. Please support these guys by checking out their Bandcamp page, and by following them on Facebook for updates. These guys have a very fast turnaround when it comes to releasing music, so I’m looking forward to their next release.