In two weeks time, 9 Stitch Method will release their second full-length album, “Jaywalking Somnambulist“. It’s been a good year for the band, from joining the Brutal Business Entertainment roster, to opening shows for national headliners such as Trapt (along with a plethora of other shows both in and outside of Pittsburgh). The bottom line is, they’ve shown a lot of growth this year, and what better way to top it all off than with a new album?
I’ve been listening to the new songs for quite a bit now, and I feel as if the experience of writing and recording their first album, along with playing live as much as they have, has really put them in a good place musically. They know one another’s tendencies, and with that comes tighter songwriting. Since I’ve spent so much time with the album, I’m doing things differently than I’ve done in past reviews. Each song gets its moment in this one. All killer, no filler (or whatever). Let the journey begin.
The album opener, Lethargic Reason, has a slower pace but quickly finds its energy through a layered, blood-curdling scream that puts the listener into a desperate situation. The screams continue throughout, sometimes stripped down to something like a rough whisper that would feel at home in the self-titled Korn album. To me, the lyrics speak on things that we may think about on long, sleepless nights, pondering fragments of memories and trying to find meaning in them; trying to answer the question of how we came to be the person we are, or how we got into the situation we’re in.
Jars starts off with a guitar riff that has some heft, some speed, and some groove to it. It’s catchy enough to capture your prolonged attention, but has an edge that I’ve come to expect. This song is more structured than the first, and makes use mainly of Patrick McElravy’s (somewhat) cleaner vocal style. Although the growls find their way into the song, I feel that it’s an approachable balance of hard rock and extreme metal that displays the varied musical tastes of the band members. To me, this song is about going through life without an understanding of your experiences. It’s about how some of us just seem to go through the motions.
The next song, Sleep, is another that combines genres quite well. Starting off with clean vocals over heavy-yet-catchy guitar riffs, it evolves into a guttural massacre after the first verse. The drums change from a calm and steady pace into a jackhammer. Structurally, this song follows a sort of strange pattern, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it simulates the process of sleeplessness gone mad. Imagine laying in bed, just thinking. You’ve surpassed the typical end-of-day thoughts one might have, and you delve into the darker side of your mind. Eventually, you become lost in those thoughts, trailblazing through blackness. You try to fight it, but you can’t help yourself. Sleep has been replaced by this endless chasm that has become a haven. The song mimics that by starting off relatively calm, then thrashing into chaos without notice. Calm returns, and then the end of the song sort of feels like acceptance. Check out the lyric video for Sleep, here.
JD is a sludgy sort of song that begins with an arrangement of strange, echoic sounds that build up the sense of being lost. The guitars kick in slow and steady, easing along as the vocals drone overtop. Each line seems to have a different approach, whether it be a harsh whisper, a low drone, or a vocal fry technique. The speed picks up in the middle of the song, but the slower part is most interesting for me. This is partly because much of the album is played in faster tempos, and party because the combination of the sluggish riff with the varied vocals is quite creepy at times. I feel that the idea behind this song is a growing obsession. The solving of problems that keep you up at night is a necessity, and without closure, there will be no moving on. The problems are something to be dwelled on, as in your mind, their solution is something you need to get on with your life.
Subconscious Thoughts wastes no time, starting with a hard-hitting riff that could surely incite a riot. This song makes full use of McElravy’s range of vocal styles. Josh Colich comes through with guitar work that grooves enough to be remembered, while slamming the listener until their body is covered in bruises. The album to this point is like that: the compositions are radio-friendly in some places, but in others they leave you a broken, bloody mess, struggling to light a cigarette in the parking lot of a local bar. By incorporating a range of influences from all corners of rock and metal, they’ve managed to create songs with the appeal of bands that introduce you to the alternative music rabbithole, and then blending those sounds with others found in genres that are largely underground. The end result is simply two people making full use of their varied musical experiences.
Scorn has a slow buildup that is composed of clean, manipulated guitar notes that give the impression of a synth. I was unsure where the song was going: would it be melodic throughout, or would there be a sudden onslaught of screams and heavy riffs? The answer: both. This song is a tug-of-war, you see? Forces working against one another. It’s about suicide, and it’s about the duality of the human mind. The intro breaks into a riff with a heavy dreariness to it, which lends to the personality of the song as a whole. This section ends with overlaying guitars that make the mind frantic, then back to the intro again. This time, however, there are indiscernible whispers in the background. A conversation between an angel and a demon, between the split personalities of one mind. It explores the idea of ending something good in order to destroy a perceived evil within oneself. The song becomes heavier, angrier, as it goes on; will the protagonist decide to off himself in order to quiet his darker half, or will he continue to live in destruction?
Bridge is the shortest track on the album, coming in at just fifty-one seconds, but there is a lot of depth in that short time. The bass drum is constant and forceful from the get-go. The guitars are somewhat droning during this one, and the vocals feature an array of screams and growls and the like. Again, the lyrics focus on the albums overlying theme of sleeplessness and the unnerving path of dark memories. The two distinct personalities return in this song, and they take on similar roles to those in Scorn. On one hand, the subject is trying to pull himself from the suffocating grip of his own negative thoughts; his darker half wants to hang onto the chaos on which he thrives, once again pushing his relatively sane counterpart to suicide. This would kill both the good and the evil, but would allow him to escape the maddening insomnia.
If I’m remembering correctly, Black Sheep was the first single from the album and came out back in February; it may also be the first 9 Stitch Method song I’d heard. I was drawn to this one quickly, as in the first few seconds, it sounds like a traditional nu metal song. There’s a nostalgia to it that I appreciate. Murky guitar drones combine with individual notes and a mixture of harsh whispers, clean vocals, and a variety of screams to create a song that is well-rounded and steeped in tradition, but willing to push the boundaries of that tradition. This is one of the more conventionally structured cuts from the album, but tempo changes and distinct segments help to separate it from the flock (cute pun, right?). The lyrics of this one stay true to the purpose of the album, involving the topic of insomnia while also discussing the idea that people go through their lives without ever searching for purpose. In this case, the black sheep stands out because he is the one that seeks the purpose others neglect. However, it does seem like he’s losing sight of his purpose throughout the song, ultimately losing the things he considers sentimental. The visuals are somehow both abstract and more defined, coming off almost like detailed hallucinations of self-destruction.
Ceiling is the second single from the album. While much of the song is utter chaos that ranges from nu metal to deathcore with a few stops between, the final forty seconds or so had a sort of spacey, hopeful feeling to it. Lyrically, it sticks to the melancholy anger that is apparent throughout the album, so perhaps the change in tone at the end is entirely in my head. I’ve also considered the idea that it is an acceptance of the madness. Not only has it become the new normal, but it is suggested that it is starting to take on physical forms that can be noticed by strangers in the street.
The Fear is What Keeps Us Here
The Fear is What Keeps Us Here is the last track on the album; it’s also the most melodic. McElravy again uses multiple vocal styles, and Josh Colich makes his sole vocal appearance (as far as I know), lending higher-pitched clean vocals to the chorus. As a whole, the sound gives me the impression of early-2000’s metalcore, but there are certainly other elements to consider. The percussion (courtesy of Gus Wallner) is all over the map in this one, but each distinct section is appropriate and well put together. As with many of the lyrics on the album, they’re quite abstract. What I got from this one is that the insomnia is caused by the outside world feeding off of the emotional state of the character. The source of those emotions is something that not only eats away at the person with the problem, but it can potentially bleed into the lives of others as well. It’s certainly stressful, causing its subject to lay awake when he should be asleep; has him walking the streets with a soul that seems as empty as death.
My conclusion is this: “Jaywalking Somnambulist” is definitely worth your time. It’s a deep and dark effort all around. The songs are as heavy as they need to be, but there are also lyrics that will implant themselves into your brain. It’s popular nostalgia meeting underground sensibility in the center of the street, and abruptly beating the shit out of each other until their blood pools into a singular puddle. 9 Stitch Method has grown a lot this year, and with this album, they unleash that growth upon the world. Give it a listen; I’m sure you’ll find something you like.
Jaywalking Somnambulist arrives on September 28th and will be available on BandCamp. The album release show will be held at Templar’s in Creighton, PA and will feature 9 Stitch Method with support from Victoria Fire, the Harbor Divide, and Transcendence, as well as special guest appearances by Skippy Ickum and the East Coast Craziez.