Southeast Engine, From the Forest to the Sea (Misra Records, 2009)

Southeast Engine are an Athens, Ohio quartet consisting of Adam Remnant (vocals, guitar, piano), Leo DeLuca (drums), Jesse Remnant (bass), and Michael Lachman (keyboards). Their album From the Forest to the Sea is a morality play, in which Adam Remnant tells a story about a man's quest for redemption after giving into temptation.

From the Forest to the Sea
was recorded onto analog tape in an old schoolhouse from the 19th century, giving the music a creepy sort of ambience. Or perhaps the creepiness comes from Remnant trying too hard to channel Nathaniel Hawthorne; it's hard to tell. The band's sound leans heavily on psychedelic hard rock, with Lachman's organ playing making a lasting favorable impression. But if you think that it would be a challenge to combine sixties retro prog with heavily biblical allusions and pull it off, well, you'd be right. To be fair, the album has some moments, especially the song "Black Gold." That's really the only track that can stand on its own, though. Everything else stands or falls with the album as a whole, and the second half of the album unfortunately didn't work for me. The imagery involving Noah's Ark and diving to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee struck me as a very long-winded, and not particularly revelatory, way of saying that the album's protagonist screwed up and now it was time to repent.

Adam Remnant and Southeast Engine don't suffer from a lack of musical ambition. On From the Forest to the Sea, they swing for the fences but only occasionally make contact. "Black Gold" is worth a few listens, and I guess people interested in rock music with biblical themes will at least be curious about the rest of it. Otherwise, the band just didn't achieve the depth they were aiming for.

Overall grade: C

reviewed by Scott

"Black Gold"

No comments: