The second full-length album by Appleseed Cast sees the band begin to move away from the more “emo” style of their debut and create a unique sound that takes indie-rock and adds a bit of punk as well as shades of prog-rock and mixes them together to form a hodgepodge of musical sensibilities. Not that that’s a bad thing. Sometimes the best bands are the ones that mix and match sounds to create a whole new spin on music.
Mare Vitalis tends to go towards the indie-rock sound more than anything, but the guitar work done by Aaron Pillar does remind me somewhat of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez at times. Then again, this album came out before any of Rodriguez-Lopez’s solo work…so I guess you could say Rodriguez-Lopez sounds like him. Regardless, he is a really talented guitar player as he shifts tempos throughout the album, always keeping it fresh and interesting. That is one of the best aspects of this album, his guitar playing that really keeps the album’s pace going throughout.
If I had to describe the feeling of this album in general, it’s spacey but still rocks . It’s one of those albums you can either have on in the background while doing something else and enjoy it as ambient sound or you can sit there at 2 AM with headphones on staring into space and getting the music take you to another world. The drumming is tight throughout the album, as the band welcomed a new drummer, Josh “Cobra” Baruth. On this album, Baruth shows power but also a heavy dose of finesse during most of the songs, creating a base for the rest of the album to proceed from.
With every album, with the good comes the bad. I am not a fan of the vocals on this album. They are sung pretty well by Christopher Crisci in terms of being on-key. That’s not the issue. What is though is a combination of production and actual lyrical content. The lyrics are really nothing that groundbreaking, at least not to the level of the music. Musically speaking, this is one of the better albums you are going to hear. Pretty hard for a lyricist to live up to, don’t you think? It’s hard to just pick one spot where this lack of lyrical innovation is true, it just permeates the album.
That leads to my second issue, which heavily influences the first. The lyrics would probably sound a heck of a lot better if they were mixed higher. I know an album like this is supposed to focus on the music, and like I said that is a great thing to focus on. If you’re going to have vocals, especially of the not-so-clear variety, at least mix them to the point where the average listener could have a decent chance of understanding them. Is that really too much to ask?
Would I recommend this album? In terms of the actual instrumental music, I would definitely say yes without a doubt. In that regard it gets an A. But with the issues with the production, intentional or not, bring the album down since it’s not that easy to hear the vocals or understand them due to their levels and it becomes an exercise in frustration.