Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Bring back Roby!
Scott Bresinger | New York, USA | 11/07/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A couple of years ago, Chicago's Milemarker released "Anaesthetic," an album of such stunning beauty that one could scarcely believe it. A mixture of Fugazi-style post-hardcore, new wave synths and a healthy dollop of art rock, it was graceful and stately even while rocking your brains out. That was followed by an EP, "Satanic Versus," which further refined their style and made me look forward to their next effort with baited breath (their live show was also incredible). After a protracted period of silence, including some side projects (Challenger, Des Ark), they finally got themselves back into the studio. Unfortunately, singer/keyboardist Roby Newton had departed, leaving Dave Laney and Al Burian as the core of the group. This resulted in a certain lack of, for want of a better term, grrrl power, but I remained confident they could pull it off. I'm deeply sorry to report this is not the case.
While "Ominosity" has many compelling moments and a welcome desire to try different styles, this is not the same Milemarker I came to love. What's worse, this new version of Milemarker is not very interesting. The new wave elements, which made a great counterpoint to the guitar crunch, are largely gone (though "Food Chain" does have a keyboard line reminiscent of Gary Numan). So too are any real sense of direction. Songs build up but go nowhere fast. The vocals are delivered mostly in a hoarse shout that comes off as generic hardcore. "Deserted" attempts a bit of soul, but ends up as merely annoying. Worse yet, not much of it is very memorable. While "Rambler" is a credible attempt at a blues/hardcore fusion, songs with intriguing titles like "Killed On Public Transit" and "Pornographic Architecture" leave no impressions at all.
There are bright spots, though. "Sun Out" is as dark as it's title indicates, and musically powerful, surging forward on guitar/keyboard interplay and the new addition of a second drummer. The piano driven closer, "Hydrochondria" is quiet and effective. Lyrics remain the band's strong suit. Paranoia abounds: "Something in the water is poisoning me/If they can add fluoride, why not lysergic acid diethylamide?/ Why not cyanide?" ("Hydrochondria"); "They revoked his driver's license and eventually just declared him totally useless and had him put to death" ("Killed On Public Transit"). Milemarker are sometimes just as much activists as band; "Rivers of Blood" suggests "fill all the rivers with blood/fill up your veins with oil," a fairly direct antiwar statement which concludes with the nihlistic "the world spins, it all ends when the dying are dead."
Still, the power and imagination the band once commanded are diminished. While there are far worse albums out there (a random glance at the Billboard chart will tell you that), this is overall Milemarker's weakest effort to date. If you don't have "Anaesthetic," that's where you should start. While I can't say for sure whether Ms. Newton was the band's resident genius, in her absence what was one of America's best bands has turned into just another post-hardcore hopeful."
the_new_beat | Knoxville, TN USA | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"yes, Yes, YES... that's all i was thinking when i first heard this album. all the songs are well thought out and executed beautifully. much more aggressive than recent albums (reminiscent of frigid forms sell, and even future isms) but with epic song structures (ala anaesthetic). probably the biggest surprise was return of ben davis to the fold. yes it's true, newton is not in the mix... but, with the resurfacing of davis it leaves me thinking "roby who?" old fans should not be disappointed, and new comers will hop on the milemarker wagon."