CD Review: ‘Transparency’ by Straight Line Stitch

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Remember the first time you discovered your favorite band? That elation you felt as you listened to the music, a previously unexplored soundscape? That’s a special feeling, and one I decided I’d attempt to recapture. You see, I received a request to review Straight Line Stitch’s new EP, Transparency (due out June 30), and while I’ve heard of the band, I wouldn’t be able to identify any of their songs I may have heard. I thought this was a great opportunity to go into a review of a well-established band with no preconceptions, archiving my thoughts unadulterated by any previous notion of what the band should or shouldn’t sound like. What makes this even more fitting, I have found, is that most of the touring group are newcomers from after the band released its last full-length album The Fight Of Our Lives in 2011 (ignoring the 2014 self-titled EP, as it doesn’t seem to be easily found). Therefore, my review is not tainted by expectations of the band as it existed in the past, but rather by what lay before us at the present.

A friend of mine once wrote a song called “Not Easily Impressed” and later told me, “That song describes you perfectly.” It’s true that I don’t like everything I hear. Really, who does? But this EP, it’s doing something right. Alexis Brown, vocalist and front woman for Straight Line Stitch, has impressed this poor soul! How a voice can transverse from sheer brutality to stunning, silky beauty is a feat that defies the mind. As I listen to the song “Out Of Body” all I can envision is an angelic figure floating through a collapsing, crumbling building, the rapid fire riffs cascading over the voice as it passes unharmed through the tumbling rubble. Okay, so that’s a little esoteric, but the way Alexis’ voice cuts through the intense music the band has written is beautiful. Period.

Their first single, “Dark Matter,” is available for request on the radio and the video for the song “Human Bondage” has premiered on Revolver Magazine’s website. You can also hear the band on the Civil Unrest tour, currently in progress.

There are only three official members of this band at the moment: Alexis Brown on vocals, Darren McClelland on bass, and Jason White on guitar. I am as in the dark as you are as to who recorded what for Transparency, but I approve! The release manages to be ominous, but contains slivers of hope shimmering in its recesses. For proof, take a look at “Face Of God,” certainly one of the heavier tracks on the EP but gushing with positivity. Meanwhile, the percussion is solid and precise and the guitars are heavy, but dynamic. No solos, sadly, but its combination of groove and melody make for an excellent metalcore release.

I think what really struck me about this release is the lyrical content. There seems to be some serious introspection occurring. A coming to terms with who, what, and where you are in this moment. Lines like “I know exactly where I’m at and I’m not looking back…” from the tune “Wilderness” are sung in such a way that…you know, it’s as if you can hear a newfound clarity and joy in Alexis’ voice.  I don’t know what she’s been through or how the band’s evolution has arrived at this point, but I get this sense of a great, bright horizon shining in the distance. I believe, with Transparency under its belt, Straight Line Stitch is ready to face a new day.

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