The terrain of post-rock is a tough place for a band to put themselves, especially with current standouts Explosions in the Sky and veterans Godspeed You! Black Emperor leading the safari. You have to find the right combination of dynamics, theatricality, and technical skill to stand out in the wash of reverb. Los Angeles-based Beware of Safety are able to find that proper concoction and add something their aforementioned peers tend to lack: raw rock power.
On their second, and latest, album, Leaves/Scars, BoS sound more like a prog-metal band than anything—and that’s meant in the most complimentary of ways. Opening track “Meridian” is a refreshing change from the standard running crescendo on which most post-rock bands rely. Beginning with a bouncing bass line akin to “One of These Days” by Pink Floyd, “Meridian” seems to be another post-rock buildup until the 2:25 mark when things kind of break down, and a sinister sounding guitar line starts. From there the song quickly turns into an almost At The Drive-In-like rock out, and you become aware that BoS is working on a different level than most. They even add in a little vocal work near the end with some lost-in-the-distortion screaming that gets kicked off with a well placed “WOO!”—a rock trick that I personally love.
“Crooked Nails for Catching Skin” is a jazzier and more a tempo side to BoS that veers dangerously close to muzak but stays on the side of good while showing something most post-rock bands don’t often delve into: a non 4/4 variant beat and meter. While they don’t go explore the sort of weird territory best left for The Mars Volta, it is enough of a change to set the song apart from the rest. The song also shows off BoS’s instrumental skill. Bass player Tad Piecka, a recent 2009 addition to the group, is an essential part of the band’s different sound. His playing is technically sound and incredibly inventive. The three-guitar attack of Adam Kay, Jeff Zamina, and Steve Molter adds fantastic layers of solos and atmosphere over Morgan Hendry’s explosive drumming.
The album does have moments that recall Explosions in the Sky, as heard via reverberating guitars and buildups, but Leaves/Scars is able to combine those with Godspeed’s sense of theatricality and emotion. BoS have set themselves apart as a powerhouse in the post-rock scene with Leaves/Scars. While Explosions in the Sky is busy inspiring/creating the soundtrack to Friday Night Lights and Godspeed is soundtracking zombie films—and thinking highly of themselves—Beware of Safety are off enjoying themselves and creating what could be the new sound for the most badass feel-good horror film of the year.