SPARTA: Austere: CDEP

With the official breakup of At the Drive-In, two bands have formed from the division. This one is Jim, Tony, and Pall, formerly the rhythm section and one of the guitars. What’s kinda throwing me for a loop is that I heard some other early songs Sparta were working on and they were full-on rock cataclysmic – weighty, overpowering, driving numbers that reminded me of the heavy-duty crash that full-speed ATDI was capable of. Omar and Cedric (who went on to form Defacto and The Mars Volta), I thought, were the more ethereal, dubby yin to these guys straight-forward, swing-filled yang. Not quite so, if this EP is any indication. It’s effect-heavy and to the untrained ear, it almost sounds like more lilting and mellow, unreleased ATDI. The vocals are even in the same range, which is pretty strange, due to the fact that Jim wasn’t ATDI’s main vocalist. Although this is very good; I’m always amazed at how much these guys – all of them – constantly challenge themselves musically. But, and this is a big but, where’s the full-on release? Where’s the unadulterated charge? Where’s the full-on bombast? Studio pieces are nice, artifice is nice, but I miss the unadulterated fire I know these guys are capable of. Perhaps it’s being saved for the full length. Fingers crossed.

 –todd (Dreamworks)