Sound — 9
Antemasque is a four-piece band comprised of Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocals), Omar Rodríguez-Lopez (guitars), Dave Elitch (drums) and recording-only member Flea (bass). As Cedric says: "The Mars Volta and At The Drive-In had a baby and it's called Antemasque." After releasing a very promising 4 track EP a few months ago, the full-length album is already available for listening. The songs in this album are around the 4 minute mark and have great energy in them, and all the members work together seamlessly.
I'm pretty sure that most of the people that have given this album a spin are already familiar with Cedric Bixler-Zavala's vocals. He's got a pretty high range for a male singer, and his chops are on full display here. His delivery on many of the tracks is really fast, which recalls his earlier days in ATDI and he does not abuse of the octave effect as he did in TMV.
The band relies mostly on basic rock instrumentation, although some tracks appear to have keys in them which further improve their existing sound. Omar's guitar is less distorted and intricate than it was before, and he throws some pretty cool effect combinations along the album, and a lead work very reminiscent of Mr. Robert Fripp. Dave Elitch is a monster behind the drumkit, and whatever I say does not describe his skills properly. "In the Lurch" is a good example of his chops.
Apparently, they have re-recorded or remixed the bass tracks from the earlier versions on the EP and boy it does show! The bass sounds very clear and present, and Flea does a great job showcasing his skills, such as in tracks "In the Lurch" and "Drown All Your Witches." Overall, the band is very tight and the songwriting is very concise and spot-on.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics here are definitely not as cryptic as they were on the guys' previous bands, and I think this is a positive aspect as it gives Antemasque its own identity. I don't have a lyric sheet with me, but overall the lyrics remain on the simple side, dealing mostly with life situations (real or fictitious), which boosts the catchiness of many tracks: "People forget, people tend to forget / And I just wanna remind you" or "Can you read my thoughts when I close my eyes / And I ride like the Devil's son." As I already stated, Cedric is a great singer and he is in full form throughout the album.
Overall Impression — 8
The first time I listened to Antemasque it reminded me of some classic prog rock bands such as King Crimson and Rush mixed with the punk aspect that At The Drive-In had. Throw in some Zeppelin as well.
The standout tracks for me are: "I Got No Remorse," "In the Lurch," "Drown All Your Witches" and "Providence," which oddly shares the name with a King Crimson track but sounds nothing like its namesake, being one of the most eerie tracks on the record. The only track I did not like is "50,000 Kilowatts," because it seems like they wrote this track for radio airplay, and while they deserve all the recognition they can get, this song sadly it reminds me a bit of My Chemical Romance, a band that I do not enjoy, and it might deceive first time listeners.
I love that the guys decided to get back together, and the fun nature of the songs tells me that they are back for good. It seems like they had a great time recording in Flea's studio, and the album is quite an easy listen as well. It is a great starting point in case you want to explore the rest of these guys' music, if you haven't already. 4 stars for Antemasque, a pretty good album that I hope is the beginning of a new and awesome chapter in the lives of these very talented men.