Handstand Records

DIY LABEL & DISTRO SINCE 2000 // hardcore punk metal indie rock vinyl


Sheer Mag

A Distant Call 12″ LP

Black Vinyl

‘A Distant Call’ is accomplished and intoxicating, with brutally honest songwriting to match. On the thundering ‘Blood From A Stone’, our hero and protagonist is struggling to get by after losing her job: “What do you expect when you’re living check to check?”) but with a burning desire to survive (“It’s the same fight I’ve been having my whole life”. On ‘The Right Stuff,’ a jangling pop-leaning cut, Halladay warns haters to back off: “If you’re worried about my health / Shut your mouth and keep it to yourself.” There’s a defiant hero in each of these songs and, riff after riff, you’re rooting for them to win.

‘A Distant Call’ is a deeply personal record, though it’s laced with songs about how the individual operates on a societal level. The propulsive ‘Chopping Block’ is as forthright in its demand for change as the chugging guitar parts in the background: “Between the parties there’s no light / We need workers to unite/ We can decide to have another world / But we’re gonna have to fight.” It’s the same kind of rallying cry we saw on their last album, but the message remains potent: together, there’s a path to a better world together. But it ain’t gonna be easy…

A new studio setting with producer Arthur Rizk (Code Orange, Power Trip) might have taken the raw edge off, but the band’s no worse for it – when the album embraces new avenues and melodies, the songs still soar. ‘A Silver Line’ is light years from the point at which the group started (though there’s still grit and gravel to songs such as ‘Steel Sharpens Steel’), and the experimentation on ‘Keep On Runnin’ – think The Cure meets Thin Lizzy – is a wonder to behold.

It’s no reinvention, but there are subtle tweaks here and there for a polished record that cements their place as a kick-ass rock’n’roll band with longevity. So what’s next, then? A rock opera? A double-album? We’re listening…

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