Toronto four piece The Flatliners have returned with their fifth studio album Inviting Light their first since 2013’s Dead Language (Not counting Division of Spoils, their collection of B-sides and rarities) and their first release since moving to Rise Records.
Never a stranger to refining their sound, over their fifteen years together and four previous releases they have gradually moved from a raw ska-punk band to a well-tuned melodic hardcore sound. Once again, we have another transition, and a slightly surprising one. Inviting Light offers what could be considered as a more mature sound, polishing away some of the rough edges with melodic and intricate but noticeably poppier guitars. This new move is clear even on their opening track Mammals. Though beginning with an ominous drone, the tracks picks up a somewhat bouncier sound. Something which an opening Flatliners track has never done.
One of the songs most resembling The Flatliners of five years ago is Hang My Head, the lead track from their latest release, the two track Nerves EP from Dine Alone Records. This being the first track on the album to put forth front-man Chris Cresswell’s trademark growl. The punk sound is far from gone from Inviting Light however, tracks like Nicotine Lips and Infinite Wisdom still put forth this fast and ferocious sound.
Some tracks however stray far from this, in particular the penultimate track Chameleon Skin. Possibly the slowest The Flatliners have ever written, even featuring an acoustic guitar. With a progressive echo, something which features on most of the release, on the vocals builds up to introducing the drums halfway through the track. This gradual build in a song harks back to tracks like Birds of England from their previous studio album Dead Language, but not achieved as successfully.
For the most part, these tracks have promise, but through largely departing from their heavy style, a new source of a punch is required but remains elusive. It appears that though the band have admirably taken a big step in evolving their sound, they may have strayed too far too fast. No songs on this release really offer drummer Paul Ramirez justice either. As the intricate and impressive beats he has offered to tracks like Sew My Mouth Shut and Shithawks, feel largely missing from this release.
Seeing as the members of the band have spent half of their lives playing music together, it would be naïve to expect the music to continually get heavier. Inviting Light is a big step in a new direction, and does bring some great new tracks to the table. Indoors and Wedding Speech in particular, two songs which come from opposite ends of what this album offers, and goes to show the versatility that The Flatliners are capable of.
Inviting Light is available worldwide April 7th and catch The Flatliners on tour in Canada with Weezer now, and with the Menzingers in the UK and Europe later this month.
With Weezer & The Trews:
April 5th – Calgary, AB at Grey Eagle Event Centre
April 6th – Dawson Creek, BC at Encana Events Centre
April 8th – Penticton, BC at South Okanagan Events Centre
With the Menzingers & The Dirty Nil:
April 18th – Southampton, UK at Talking Heads
April 19th – London, UK at Koko
April 20th – Manchester, UK at Academy 2
April 21st – Bristol, UK at Bierkeller
April 22nd – Glasglow, Scotland at Oran Mor
April 23rd – Derby, UK at The Venue
April 24th – Norwich, UK at Epic Studios
April 26th – Cologne, Germany at Underground
April 27th – Berlin, Germany at Musik & Frieden
April 28th – Münster, Germany at Skater’s Palace
April 29th – Meerhout, Belgium at Groezrock Festival