Enigmatic Lawrence, KS rockers The Appleseed Cast are one of the few emo bands that grew into something more by pushing their music into new arenas — their music matured as they did. Now with a more post-rock lean, The Appleseed Cast have been forging songs out of complex guitar riffs, technical drum work, and atmospheric effects. Their newest album, Illumination Ritual, fully embraces that grandiosity.
The Appleseed Cast have always been anchored by emotion, whether evoked or inferred, and their movement toward post-rock has bolstered lead singer/songwriter– and only remaining original member– Chris Crisci’s words tenfold. Adriatic to Black Sea opens the album with a long instrumental jam before Crisci’s hushed vocals float into the mix, chanting the verse, I see you laughing around / I see you laugh then you cry. The music rolls over the ears as the vocals create the undertow.
The band’s strongest point has always been its rhythm section. They’ve gone through a few different drummers, but there’s always an intricate nature to the beats. Mid-album powerhouse Cathedral Rings starts with simple cymbals, but then blooms into quick, unending rolls and rim hits. It’s an air drumming dream as Nathan Wilder pounds away with metronome precision.
There are a few moments that go on a bit too long toward the end, like “Branches on the Arrow Peak Revelation” and “North Star Ordination”, but overall, Illumination Ritual is the band at its poetic best, riding the quiet night wind to a restful conclusion. The Appleseed Cast combines the chaos of the shore with the underlying calm beauty of the waves.
Essential Tracks: “Adriatic to Black Sea”, “Cathedral Rings”