Hailing from Southern California, The Twilight Transmission emerged in late 2004, a Frankenstein’s monster built of former bands such as Outspoken and Mean Season. Expectations for these veterans are obviously high on the mark, unfortunately, however, their full-length debut The Dance of Destruction isn’t a strong first outing. The main problem with the album resides in both the lyrical and instrumental veins. What cripples the album is a distinct lack of artistic focus, especially dominant in the written side of the band. Because the lyrics aren’t able to completely express the idea or emotion, the instrumentation suffers as well.
Writing solid and memorable lyrics is just a Herculean task as writing catchy hooks or unforgettable guitar work. What happened in the case of The Dance of Destruction is that instead of focusing on a particular theme or developing a natural feeling of progression in terms of attitude, ideas presented or strength of word, a weak and amateurish outcome resulted. The songs deal with anything from suicide to a cry for freedom from undefined oppression. “Sleepers,” being the opening track, feels vastly out of place in regards to the following songs, at least lyrically. It discusses suicide as being a cheap cop-out in dealing with problems of a person’s life, ending with a call for freedom. This contrasts with the next song, “Flux,” which mentions death, but not suicide. For the rest of the album, the juxtaposition of songs continues, going from “we” to “I” in every other song, uncertain whether or not they are singing to or for the audience.
The Twilight Transmission is a promising band, especially if they can shape their own voice. When lyrically judged, the songs which stood out as the strongest were more universal in nature, or, if you prefer, “We.” An alternate view is that the heavy use of naming the speaker “We” is indicative of a quest of self-discovery. Being new to the musical scene presents a myriad of obstacles, the least of these being able to present a unique sound and voice. Thus, projecting out is an avenue of expression that hasn’t been completely gutted.
The more glaring disappointments appear in sonic form. The Twilight Transmission is heavily guitar-based, sounding like a less developed Strike Anywhere, though their songs stagnate. Not much is done to try and develop hooks or rifts in any song, resulting in tepid or generally boring tracks. A lull sense of guitar work is especially present during the first half of the album, explicitly during the second song, “The Flow.” A problem with the song is that there is no change into a chorus, except in the tone of the vocalist. This continues up into the fifth track, “Lights Out.”
Toward the end of the album, namely the last three songs, there is a noticeable change musically from the previous half of the album. Namely, the tempo becomes slightly faster, and the guitar work becomes more interesting. But it is too little too late to make a significant difference. Even with these changes, the lack of a proper musical chorus, overpowering of vocals, and generally weak guitar work combine to ground the album as a whole. And while vocalist Jae Hansel is nothing short of passionate, his pipes resonate with power but are usually off-tempo and off-key. He also draws out words for no other reason than to keep up with the rest of the song, like there aren’t enough words to fill the songs.
Given time and pursued focus, The Twilight Transmission has the opportunity to redeem themselves from this relatively weak debut. The Dance of Destruction shows hints that a great album lies somewhere within itself, but it wasn’t drawn out. If they can pick themselves up off the floor, dust off the jeans and play harder, then the follow-up is sure to destroy a small city or two.
Strike Anywhere – To Live in Discontent
Paint It Black – CVA
The Fire Still Burns – Keeping Hope Alive