Presadona has a unique relationship with Nerdy Nothings. Their song “Back & Forth Forever” has provided the intro music to our podcast since the first episode. We even got the band to record an episode of that podcast, though it’s sadly been lost to the ages due to mangled audio. Clearly we know and like these guys, so it might seem suspect for us to present a review of their album. However, what appears below is my unbiased opinion. Bottom line: while it’s true this record only came into my hands because I know the people who created it, I’m really glad I’ve got it.
Presadona’s a five-piece post-hardcore band from the south Chicago suburbs/Northwest Indiana. That’s not a scene or genre I’m too familiar with, primarily because I like my music to have melodies and hooks, which usually keeps me away from noisier groups. As it happens, the guys in Presadona seem to feel the same way. Filling the Void is surprisingly catchy, especially when you consider how heavy the record is. But it’s heavy in a smart way. In fact, it reminds me a lot of AFI’s Sing the Sorrow, another album from a genre I mostly ignored that ended up being one of my favorite records of 2003. There are bands that subsume their genre and bands whose genre swallows them; Presadona is certainly one of the former.
Let’s talk some more about genre distinctions. Where many hardcore bands opt to forego singing in favor of a constant scream, Presadona visits that well only as punctuation, its best possible use. If you’re yelling all the time, you remove any emotional impact from those outbursts. When employed sparingly, screams demand attention be paid. It’s a technique employed very well by bands like Coheed and Cambria, whose “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth III” may have the best use of screaming ever put to record.
Speaking of vocals, singer Kris Kirgis is a real talent. His impressively melodic pipes really make this band stand above the others in their milieu. He’s got an impressive range, and more importantly a lot of power. He also knows how to scale it back when necessary; check out the harmonized all-vocal outro to “Back & Forth Forever” for an example of Presadona exploring territory similar bands might not touch. That willingness to employ dynamics suggests that Presadona holds a lot of cards that can surprise us; it’s very telling that the nine songs on Filling the Void all manage to sound distinct.
I also have to mention twin guitar players Mynor Gonzalez and Steve Carniello; it seems like their fingers never stop. The riffs and leads they pull off here are truly impressive; it boggles my mind at how many intricate parts this band can pack into a four-minute song. Above all, Gonzalez and Carniello’s guitar work helps create the rich texture that powers the disc. It’s the kind of record where you can find something new to enjoy every time you hear it. It’s almost the opposite approach of a chamber-pop band like Arcade Fire that merges simple parts from a dozen instruments — here we have the typical four-piece rock set-up creating compositions of almost unbelievable density.
It’s probably become clear that I really like bands that defy expectations. To me, that’s nowhere more clear than on this record’s two “side-enders,” “Cesare” and “God Awful,” which in their climaxes both break down into full-on choral hymns. It’s a clever incorporation of the record’s themes of religion and emptiness, but also a really surprising technique for a young band to take. These tracks make it clear that Presadona has epic aspirations. As their record label debut, Filling the Void does a great job of introducing this band to the world. One immediately wonders what’s next.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more