Sound: In the winter of 2011, Thirty 30 headed into Doubletime Studios in El Cajon, Ca to begin tracking their first official release, the "Inventing Ghosts" EP. To be honest, I wasn't really into these guys at first. The band released their first music video, "The Charlatan", in August 2011, and even though the video and music itself were great, vocalist Samantha Sinister wasn't doing it for me. So when I heard they had gotten another singer shortly after recording the EP, I have to admit I was skeptical. However, when I heard the voice of Danielle Cullins, I was floored!
From beginning to end, "Inventing Ghosts" is a breath of fresh air. Although it does have minor faults, it is a great debut for a great band. The Seven song EP opens with "Blind Man's Noose". The song (like most of the songs on the EP) remind me of a mix between Dream Theater and Korn. Vocalist/Guitarist, Anthony Esparza, spews screams that are both rhythmic and emotional, almost sounding like Chad Gray of Mudvayne. Danielle's vocals shine during the chorus and gives the song a great contrast. This is one of my favorites as it has unorthodox drum beats with metal guitars. It also sets the tone for the EP as well.
"Gift From God" is definitely a metal fest of sorts, with its fast picking riffs, machine gun like double bass, and a switch off of vocalists Danielle and Anthony that has an almost opera feel. Though it's a good song, this is my least favorite. The song length and repetition of sections gets old, but it picks up again, ending with an almost POD like section.
And then we get to "Tastes Better", guitarist Daen Olson's first contribution to Thirty 30. I first heard this song on Rock 105.3 and fell in love. It's a mid tempo song with very simple guitar licks and almost Rush-like drums (courtesy of then drummer Adrian Boyd). "Tastes Better" sounds more of a mix between dark rock and pop (think gothic Katy Perry). This is a great song and is my favorite. It also has my favorite solo, with Daen Olson using his effects like its a part of his instrument. Overall, a great song and different from the rest of the EP.
"End Of My World" is the EP's ballad, but gets very heavy in the intro. Drummer Adrian Boyd and Bassist Alberto Lafarga create a landscape of atmospheric sounds while Guitarists Daen Olson and Anthony Esparza play effects laden guitar riffs. The song then jumps into a heavy section that has an anthemic chorus. Let me just say Danielle Cullins was born to sing this song. She carries the emotion heavily and her duet with Anthony's screaming in the middle is perfect. However, because of the darkness of this song, I couldn't listen to this song in the car in the way to work or to a party. It's a song you listen to during a break up.
Ok, I don't listen to extreme metal very often, but when Thirty 30 does change from a hard rock band to a metal band, they excel in "Concluding Your Fate". The song is an experiment into hardcore/metal, Thirty 30 style. The song is a full on collaboration with Kylan Pownell (from Anthony's other band, Burdens Arise). With its heavy breakdowns, and tribal beats, "Concluding Your Fate" is definitely original, even vocally, leaving Kylan to take the lead while Danielle provides the main melody Anthony duels with Kylan in the end. If you are a fan of Unearth, Throwdown, or Bring Me The Horizon, you would love this song.
Next is the Thirty 30 epic climax, "Wendy". Clocking in at 8:48, "Wendy" seems like long, but its strongest asset is that the song switches from hook to hook. With Kylan guesting on this song as well, "Wendy" has more in common with the Thirty 30 style than that of "Concluding Your Fate". From the tribal build up, to Anthony's and Kylan's switch off, and then Danielle's soaring vocals, this song is a definite 10. The chorus is almost a random pop/Latin flavored style but flows extremely well with the music. Anthony's solo is more of an old school shred and the ending is just epic in every sense of the word, with a freestyle scream section behind Danielle's tranquil voice that resembles Korn's "Daddy".
The final song is the outro, "Ever Again". This song is interesting because it is short, to the point, and calm. With a smooth guitar riff and lyrics from the chorus of "Blind Man's Noose", this is a great ending to a very emotional collection of music. // 7
Lyrics and Singing: Of course, most rock/metal bands write songs about bad relationships, but Thirty 30 takes it to a whole other level. "Blind Man's Noose" and "End Of My World" were both penned by Anthony following a traumatic experience during his divorce in 2008. "You're the poison in my life/ Why won't you let me die/my oracle in silk/ flushed against my eyes" Anthony screams describing trying to let somebody go but they keep seducing you back. "There are vampires inside my head/blood stains on the carpet", Danielle sings, speaking about the first night alone after the person you loved left you. Both songs are emotional but it's in "End Of My World" that we find Thirty 30 going into really dark territory.
"End Of My World" also has hints at dealing with Bipolar disorder, which Anthony (who suffers from bipolar cyclothmia) says he will be speaking out on much more in the future. "Gift From God" was written about people who think very highly if themselves and look down on those they feel are less than them. Anthony told me at a show in January that he wrote the lyrics about former Thirty 30 vocalist Ramiro Leon. Even though the song itself is not one of my favorites, it has a brilliant concept, at first accusing the person who has done wrong, and then getting into the mind of that person and see how they tick. "Wendy" was written about a bad situation involving a friend of Thirty 30. I don't really know the story but from the lyrics, it sounds like a person finding the strength to finally say enough is enough and leaving behind someone who has really hurt them. "I can say I haven't thought about you all day/it's not over yet/ I can say I woke up in a cold sweat thinking about you." Love that chorus!
"Concluding Your Fate" has some great lyrics too! "You're world will disappear/ you have no harbors to sail between" I can guess has to deal with Anthony and Kylan's former band Between The Harbors. I remember speaking to Anthony about how that band ended, but I'm not here to spill gossip. I'm here to review the CD. And now onto my favorite song, "Tastes Better". I don't know what Mr. Olson was thinking about but I can guess. "Fit it in/Feels Warm/ till I feel/ good again". Yep this sing is about making babies but it is poetic and dark but still pretty fun. Out of all the anger and sadness that surrounds this EP, it's nice to hear a song that is fun and very tongue-in-cheek. // 8
Impression: Overall, I enjoyed Thirty 30's "Inventing Ghosts" EP. It is an original mix of metal, rock, with dabs of hip hop beats and ambient effects. Although all the band members shine many times during the music, it is drummer Adrian Boyd who really shows us what he's got. Every song is like a drum solo, and though there are times were it does get a little much, there are many more times were the execution is in point. He has the skill to be a drumming legend if he wants. (Note: Adrian is no longer with Thirty 30 and was replaced by new drummer, Joel Flores). // 7