$10.50 advance tickets available at Rotate This & Soundscapes
The thing about progress is that sometimes we never recognize it until we've arrived at the end goal and reflected. That's what's so telling about the title of Native's sophomore album, Orthodox: inasmuch as it dispenses with the quartet's prior musical conventions as it tackles weighty social issues often left unchallenged by today's bands. It's an album filled with subtle intricacies for obsessives to hone in on for years to come, while equally menacing and destructive in its incisive power.
In just a handful of years, Northwestern Indiana's Native have quietly built themselves a large word-of-mouth following in the underground as an incendiary live act. The iconoclast group's impeccable musicianship, ominous chords, apocalyptic vocals and innovative rhythms hit with an intensity that can only be described as akin to a white-knuckle thrill ride.
There's as much suffocating darkness as there is thoughtful focus to Native's intricate song structures and pensive lyrics. There's a dark foreboding in the guitar lines simultaneously pushing and pulling, the whole band embracing and tearing apart musical convention with the unpredictability of a protest gone awry.
Album opener "Word City" starts off deceptively restrained with slowly strummed, clean guitar chords that give way to a molten flow of cataclysmic urgency as vocalist/bassist Bobby Markos' howls like a death knell, dual guitarists Dan Evans and Ed O'Neill weave chiming single notes among pummeling power chords and powerhouse drummer Nick Glassen slices the rhythm into jagged shards. Elsewhere, "Coin Toss" opens with Glassen's impeccable kick drum led charge as the band follows suit with a syncopated rush of guitars spinning into a quasi-Middle Eastern sounding melody as Markos yelps furiously over group chant vocals. "Kissing Bridge" kicks off with aggressive, ringing guitar interplay that spills into a somehow frantic, yet ethereal splay as the song ruptures itself beneath half-time drums and bass. There is a masterful control of dynamics throughout the album's many dramatic shifts. These are songs writ largely of emotional outpouring, seeming to challenge all that's come before it. And, it isn't until the soaring, abrupt climax of the 8-song album closer, "Sixty Seven" that we have a moment to reflect upon the album's propulsive destruction and sound of a band reinvented.
"We set out to make it a departure from what Native used to be," Markos explains. "We wanted this to address societal flaws, not just selfish parts of our personal lives." O'Neill elaborates, "we'd burned out on that math-rock term, and lyrically too we wanted to take ourselves out of the equation. The music is calculated, but raw." Far from screaming about the big bad government, Orthodox is constructed in somewhat cryptic lyrics depicting various themes, all of them aimed at answering the album's many questions. "We hate the presentation of problems with no solution," Markos says. "It takes it one step further to offer your hand at how to solve it."
Orthodox was recorded by Greg Norman (Russian Circles, Pelican) in Tolono, IL and in Chicago throughout 2012 and 2013. The album's taut 8 songs were eventually chosen out of nearly 20 tracks written over a grueling couple of years of writing and reworking ideas in near seclusion. Listeners "will hear every bad night we had," Markos says. "The anguish that went into it. It was a brutal undertaking." Native's critically-acclaimed 2010 debut full length Wrestling Moves was also issued by Sargent House. The band's self-released EP We Delete: Erase in 2008 got the attention of Sargent House, who then signed the band to management and label.