Life And Times, The - The Flat End Of The Earth

Year of Release: 2003
Label: 54?40' Or Fight!
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 23:10:00

The Life And Times is a brand new Kansas trio following on from the breakup of brooding alt-rockers Shiner, formed by their lead singer Allen Epley (also credited with guitars and keys) and including John Meredith (bass, guitar and keys) and Mike Myers (drums). While this style of music is not strictly my thing, it's reasonably listenable and will probably appeal to advocates of the "mainstream alternative" ? it's a little bit metal, a little bit grungey, a little experimental.

This is a short six-track EP, the band's debut release. One thing I would have liked to hear is a bit more variety. Each song is relatively brief but there isn't a lot to distinguish each one from the others. Rhythms are generally unhurried and sullen, mixed in with jarring dischords and broken by the occasional burst of activity. Musically it's uncomplicated, simple effective chord progressions and sparse instrumentation without a trace of showiness. The vocals are either breathily quiet, fuzzily distorted or lazy droning. They're quite good, Epley has a lovely vocal tone, though it's occasionally a little whiny for my tastes. Again though, that is all part of the genre. The lyrics are cryptic and cynically philosophical, those of them which make sense ? and not all of them do; production is raw and unpolished and the instrumental sound is not always clear (deliberate I imagine) but the playing is tight. This is what I'd term "leftwing metal," smacking of dissatisfied and overworked scruffy university-level youths playing in a rented garage with (quoted from the booklet) "whatever instruments happened to be near us at the time of recording."

The first three tracks of the EP are ok but not remarkable, and I'd recommend skipping straight to track four if you're looking for highlights. Number four, "Movies And Books," is the most active song, with the most going on musically and one of the more interesting offerings. Following it is "Servo," which has probably the best melody lines, a nicely-written song with a sleepy pace. The final and title track is a good choice to end the album, beginning slowly and building to a true climax, something none of the other songs really have. There's also some nice use of cello in this track.

I guess this is not my normal fare, but to be reasonable, it's well-written for what it is. I just don't find this particular genre very interesting and I don't see it appealing too much to your average prog/power metal fan either. However, if you're into that sort of grungey garage metal, this might be worth checking out.

Similar to: Incubus, Shiner

[This review originally appeared October 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Raisin In The Sun / Houdini / High Scores / Movies And Books / Servo / The Flat End Of The Earth

Allen Epley - vocals, guitars, keys
John Meredith - bass, guitar, and keys
Mike Myers - drums

The Flat End Of The Earth (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 911
Language: english


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