With vocals like â€œOne For The Kidsâ€-era Yellowcard, Willâ€™s vocals match well with the supersonic instrumentation laid down by Nic and Joseph (guitars), Kevin (drums) and Ryan (bass). Tracks mesh well with each other; there is nary even a breathe between â€œSay Anythingâ€ and â€œHonestlyâ€. While there might not be the sizzling guitar solos and outright technical prowess of the technical emocore bands (those influenced by bands like Converge), the dynamic in which the band works allows for a cohesive sound to assault all listeners throughout. With a bass line that is easily the equivalent to that in Don Henleyâ€™s â€œNew York Minuteâ€, Ryanâ€™s bass line in â€œRunawayâ€ challenges (and succeeds at more than one time) the vocal dominance previously held sacrosanct.
The slender tendrils of Willâ€™s vocals during â€œMatter of Timeâ€ are just at the perfect level of emotive content and melodramatic, subjugating listenersâ€™ hearts to whatever whims ey might have. The sweet groove present on â€œBurn This Cityâ€ pushes past even Motion City Soundtrack and Boys Night Out for the position at the top of the emo hill; throwing in a guitar solo that looks back to Santana doesnâ€™t hurt the track in the least. What is impressive about Cartel is that harmony is everywhere on the disc; layers upon layers dominate the sound of â€œChromaâ€ in that Will will create eir own harmony as the backing beat will do something related but ultimately different. It may just be the height of the disc when Cartel get into their â€œSettle Downâ€; the drum/vocal dynamic that is such a large part of the track really adds to the intensity of the track while scaling down the composition to only the essentials.
â€œIf I Fallâ€ is the perfect example of a track by The Starting Line; it is only too bad that The Starting Line has only a fraction of the talent or raw energy that Cartel comes up with on the track and the disc in toto. The dynamic between the acoustic and the drumline-sounding drumbeat during â€œThe Minstrelâ€™s Prayerâ€ is as taut as get out; so many things are happening throughout this track that it will take even the most serious listener a number of times before ey truly â€œgets itâ€. Cartel comes out with one of the best â€œemoâ€ albums of the last few years; there is no limit to what they can accomplish as soon as their fanbase increases.
Top Tracks: The Ministrelâ€™s Prayer, Say Anything Else
Cartel â€“ Chroma / 2005 The Militia Group / 12 Tracks / http://www.carteldc.com / http://www.themilitiagroup.com / Reviewed 23 October 2005