Easter – Innocence Man

 Now, the problem with knowing a little too much about a band in advance of their release, is that matching the thrill of first hearing their songs can be quite difficult, especially when the bulk of an album rests heavily on those very songs.

In this case, Somethin’ American, Damp Patch and Holy Island have all been firm Toad favourites since I first heard them in the middle of last year.  The excitement of discovering something new and amazing has inevitably since subsided, so this album has to a slightly different job for me than it might for a first-time listener.

For me Innocence Man had to flesh out the real band, after the impression I had formed in my head from three demos and two brilliant live gigs, which is something which is quite hard to do, not least because when you are excited about a band’s debut album you can end up imagining all sorts of stuff the band either can’t deliver or never had any intention of delivering.

This process of allowing a real band to emerge from a mixture of a small amount of information and an awful lot of expectations started, in my case, with the slow-burning, gorgeous Begin Again. As the centrepiece of an album of intense, epic guitar brooders it is a masterstroke, all yearning, damaged delivery, and ending in gorgeous waves of cello. It delivers not just an aural break, but a sense of pathos to an album which is for the most part quite confrontational, and gives it a little more emotional availability than you might get from some of the raging which surrounds it.

When I first saw them live I made the smart-arsed remark that Easter songs tend to last about two minutes, only to be followed by an increasingly messy five minute outro which ends in feedback and chaos.  Although not too far from the truth, it was just a joke, but these epic endings are just about the best moments of the album.

The music may be intense, but the pace isn’t all that frenetic, so when the band really start to build up into a climax, they tend to generate a slightly daft-looking slow-motion headbang. Somethin’ American and Never Me are brilliant in that respect, building into giant squalls of guitar racket and brilliant, crashing drums.  Damp Patch, with a more rueful feel to it, relieves that intensity nicely, however, and there is the aforementioned loveliness of Begin Again as well.

Funnily enough, the longest outro of the lot, on Holy Island, whilst it briefly threatens to go absolutely ballistic, actually wrong-foots you by lapsing into a slow, dingy descent into dissonance. That signals the end of the album, collapsing a little like a storm which has entirely blown itself out, leaving no more than a few eddies and stray gusts.

Even this many years in, I still have no idea what it takes to crack it in music, or whatever you want to call it.  You’d have thought that if a fantastic album and an absolutely brilliant live performance had much to do with it, then this lot would be most of the way there already.  Nevertheless, I wouldn’t bother writing a blog if I wasn’t outraged at just how much of the world is Wrong About Music, so I have a sneaking fear Easter might not get the praise they’re due.  Prove me wrong, buy this album, I promise you it’s bloody brilliant.

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