Before emo was hijacked by a swarm of walking fringes spurting MTV friendly pap, emo was a curious and awfully passionate sub-genre. Intense and consuming, it required a substantial amount of emotional investment – donning a pair of black skinny jeans and smattering of ill-advised piercings just wasn’t enough. Channelling nineties emo and post-hardcore into a mixing bowl of fraught emotionality, Reservoir are certainly not a band susceptible to bouts of crippling self-awareness. Hearts are worn firmly upon sleeves, emotional vitriol bleeds from every orifice, uninhibited passion leaks from every pore.
The line between faintly melodic aural chaos and pure cataclysmic meltdown is straddled repeatedly to consistently brilliant effect, the band threatening to collapse in on itself in a fit of angst-ridden rage. Whilst these moments of potential implosion may initially grab attention like a full on slap to the face, the majority of the record consists of a more measured and grounded emo that centres on distortion-free guitars and some rather sumptuous jangly chord progressions. Mid album instrumental ‘I Heard You As I Walked Away’ is arguably as affecting in its delicate melodic nature as any of the band’s more explosive tendencies.
Vocally, Reservoir are all over the gaff. Often several members will be wailing in unison in what isn’t exactly the most tuneful vocal performance ever committed to tape, yet the inner tumult behind their cries and pained vocals is all too palpable and easily recognisable to those familiar with the trappings of the original, ‘pure’ brand of emo.
On opener ‘Before I Leave’, Reservoir exhibit two settings: fragile ultra-sensitive American Football types and freak out explosive catharsis. It’s a startling juxtaposition – emotional frailty and intense despair co-existing, delicate emo giving way to a terrific furore.
Violins appear for the downbeat ‘Samantha’, gifting their despondent and forlorn tones in a somewhat cliché manner to a song that is already inexorably gloomy. ‘Bedfellow’ and ‘Sleeping Away The Storm’ are two mesmerising five minute masterpieces bearing similar structural and aural makeup that exist as the standout tracks. Originating in melodic arpeggios, the songs sway and shift from fragile verse to exultant chorus, building alternatively to an exhilarating and cataclysmic crescendo on ‘Sleeping Away The Storm’ and a twinkling coda on ‘Bedfellows’.
Reservoir’s brand of alternately chaotic and delicate emo may have been purported in several guises by many a troupe of ultra-sensitive Rites Of Spring worshipers, yet these pensive lads take on the emo archetype is for the most part a efficacious exercise. I Heard You As I Walked Away is a studious exploration of the everlasting loud/quiet dynamic technique and a tumultuous foray into tortured emotion. In short, an original emo kid’s wet dream.
3.5 out of 5 high fives!