Quell - One Man's Struggle With The English Language - Goodfellow Records 2005
10 Songs
Running Time: 37:58

When one thinks of North Carolina, somehow, the term "tech-core" gets lost amid the tobacco farms and tractor pulls. Yet up from those weed-choked fields comes Quell. Formed from the debris of A Kiss Before Dying and Andrea's Truth, Quell have made a name for themselves by securing opening slots for touring bands as diverse as Daughters and Sworn Enemy. And thus, it comes to this...the debut album. Having never heard of this band or its progenitors beforehand, and based on the minimalist artwork, I was able to press the Play button with no expectations or reservations.

Thank God I was, too. Vocally, Quell leaps from the gnarled fury of CurlUpAndDie to a subdued drone with abandon. It's just not wise to sing with glass marbles in your mouth, but Quell crushes the orbs to shards, shards to slivers, then spits them out into your eardrums, going for broke or not at all. So comfortable do they seem with their music, that when a slightly Swedish-sounding metal riff shows up just over a minute into 'Final Transaction And End Balance', it somehow seems natural. The musical wrecking ball never lets up until the fifth song, and even then, the melody of 'Mindset Of The Average (Person/Culture/Nation/Father)' is scattershot with angular leads and tempos that spin like the hurricane winds for which their area of the country is known. Quell pile on the hooks as well, which works to their favour, and puts them closer to the head of the pack in the race to be the next Insert Popular Band Name Here. Not that I feel they're trying for that specific goal, but with the clobbering riff of 4:18-4:35 segueing into a nearly metalcore coda from 4:45-5:00, and both being memorable as all Hell, I could see this band's fanbase growing leaps and bounds if they can get in front of the right ears. Though a lowly instrumental, the ninth song here stands out, being a study in How To Fuck With People's Heads 101. Beginning with a musical phrase looping through your consciousness, soon the beating begins, and the sound of the impact is the sound of your speakers imploding in self-defense. Seriously. Of course, just when you resign yourself to your bruised and bloody fate, a solo piano calmly takes the song to it's end, albeit backed by fractured effects and washes of indecipherable shouts (feedback?). In the music of Quell, the voice becomes such a part of the song as to be seen as simply another instrument, another gear in the machine.

I won't go so far as to say Quell is "The Next Big Thing", but I will say this for them. With One Man's Struggle... , Quell have crafted an album as enjoyable to listen to as it is genuinely dangerous. And that, my slide-rule loving friends, is an art.


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