Sound — 9
Thirty 30's newest EP, "Dawn", is one of those CDs that show a bands growth and newfound sound and exceeds well over their debut. Were their first release, the "Inventing Ghosts" EP was abstract and found the band take on a more art/rock approach to hard rock and metal, "Dawn" finds Thirty 30 going into more straight ahead rock/metal. The vibe is also different from "Inventing Ghosts" and this is due to a few things. Vocalist/Guitarist/Keyboardist Anthony Esparza was the main songwriter and lyricist for a majority of "Inventing Ghosts", but most of those songs were written from 2008-2010. Maturity obviously took over. Another reason for this release sounding so different from its predecessor was that this EP was a collaboration between the musicians rather than Esparza writing a majority of the music. But the biggest reason was the lose of founding drummer Adrian Boyd who left the band only two months after the release of "Inventing Ghosts". With the entrance of new drummer Joel Flores, the band was able to explore different areas of rock and metal. Track by Track: 1. "My Darkest Hour" Music by Joel Flores/Anthony Esparza; Lyrics by Danielle Cullins/Anthony Esparza. This is one of the more groove-oriented songs in Thirty 30's catalog, using two guitar solos from guitarists Daen Olson and Anthony Esparza, a massive chorus, great vocals from both Danielle Cullins and Anthony Esparza, down to business bass lines from Alberto Lafarga, and groove metal beats provided by new drummer Joel Flores. Its almost like the beat Avenged Sevenfold song never written! This song is similar to their song "The Charlatan", which also became their first video. "My Darkest Hour" has become Thirty 30's signature song. But it is Danielle's voice that really brings this song to life. She really embodies the whole "tough chick" persona, and sings the hell out of this song. My two favorite parts are the chorus and the guitar harmonies. The chorus sounds like a heavier version of Paramore, though Danielle is more skilled than that of Haley Williams, and my favorite band is Avenged Sevenfold so it is nice to see a young band use straight forward guitar harmonies without coming off as a cheesy 80's ripoff band. The guitar solos really shine too as you can distinctly tell the difference between Daen and Anthony. Anthony's solo is a traditional solo with his signature wah effect while Daen uses his signature effect (see "Tastes Better" from the "Inventing Ghosts" EP) which I love. "My Darkest Hour" is also much more upbeat and sets the tone for not just "Dawn" but for Thirty 30's next batch of songs. 2. "A Passive Tide" Music - Daen Olson; Lyrics - Daen Olson. This is just a great song. Completely written by Daen Olson, "A Passive Tide" is a hard rock ride from start to finish. Take notes DragonForce fans, simple riffs+simple drums+simple melodies=simply great songs! My favorite thing about this song is definitely the chorus, which allows a new voice into the band. Daen and Danielle harmonize together surprisingly beautifully. Their emotional delivery matches together perfectly. Although I live Danielle's voice, Daen singing does add a bit more diversity. It kind of bridges the gap between Danielle's smooth vocals and Anthony's rough screaming. Another thing I love about this song is the twin guitar harmony in the middle. However, unlike "My Darkest Hour", the guitar harmonies on "A Passive Tide" are stable and hypnotic. Another great thing about this song is the rhythm section... It's just so simple but "A Passive Tide" just makes you want to want to just hang your head. It is just a great song. 3. "The Bat & The Moon" Music - Anthony Esparza/Joel Flores; Lyrics - Anthony Esparza. Ok, this next song, hands down is the best Thirty 30 song. Why, because I f--king cried when I heard it and that's only ever happened once before. So here we go... "The Bat & The Moon" is a completely different type of song for Thirty 30. This song really shines as Anthony's song, but Danielle totally encompasses the emotion and takes over. Her voice during the chorus made me cry after the first, second, and third listen. It's another simple song but between Danielle's voice, Joel's eclectic beats, Anthony's piano lick, Daen's abstract guitar lead, Alberto's rolling bass, and the BIG chorus, I think this is not just my favorite song from the band, but Thirty 30's best song. Anthony wrote it about his son, who will be born this September, but the song could be about anyone. It's a heartfelt piece and could possibly break the band into the big time.
Lyrics — 9
Lyrically, it seems as if Thirty 30 has lightened up a bit. But that makes the lyrics stand out more. In comparison to their previous EP, "Inventing Ghosts", "Dawn" still retains its poetic spirit, however instead of the songs dwelling on past experiences and negativity, the lyrics shine on what is going on currently. "My Darkest Hour" is about self empowerment and overcoming relationship/ex-relationship obstacles. "My Darkest Hour" also has moments of strength, moments were enough is enough. "I break down these walls you build around me" to the anthemic chorus "You will end up with me there// I you choose to see me in my darkest hour" Danielle belts, describing a love one proving themselves to you. "A Passive Tide" is another great song from the Daen Olson catalog. It's not one of Thirty's usual complex songs. "A Passive Tide" is just a kick-ass rock song. Daen's lyrics seem to be directed at an ex-girlfriend. Danielle spits those lyrics out as if she is talking to someone who hurt, but goes about it with a feministic swagger. "Keep breaking all the lies without knowing why I am lost and my own conscious locks me out" she sings right before her and Daen kick it into their duet during the chorus. "The Bat & The Moon" is a very conceptual piece. Anthony wrote the song about his son, but it seems to have stricken a nerve with people including me. Honestly, I thought about my previous relationship. "Because you're the heaven I've been waiting for/ and the gift I don't deserve/ I would do anything for you/ The Bat & The Moon". It has almost a lullaby vibe before it bursts into this epic song. In the end, it just a really cool love song. Anthony weaved it so it could really be about anyone, but as a girl, I think it's really sweet.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, "Dawn" is a new direction for the band but the biggest light shines on the entire band. Losing Adrian was a big hit on the bands signature sound, so when Joel came into the picture, the sound was obviously going to change. I think it is great how Joel brought a new light into the band, playing both complex and simple passages. But it's Danielle's performance that really goes over the top in a good way. Alberto is more about staying in the pocket than playing crazy bass licks, Daen Olson's new position in the songwriting has also helped, and Anthony exploring other avenues of songwriting. And what's even better, "Dawn" is available at www.bandcamp.com/thirty30 for FREE!