THE DRIFTWOOD SIGN – Broken Times

The Driftwood Sign 2019

THE DRIFTWOOD SIGN –
Broken Times

Capping off their first decade, Swedish foursome serve up debut album and pitch riffs into social relevance.

When former members of popular local collectives threw in their lot with each other, a full-length recording might have been on the cards, yet it took the quartet about ten years to mature and make “Broken Times” an ultimate statement. Not the statement of intent, as the group’s self-titled EP was in 2015, but a harsh critique of our world’s ills – from political to environmental – set to a tasty heaviness. Hardly original in stylistic terms, the album hits all the right buttons, nonetheless, to call out everything what’s wrong, even though the artists seem to be hesitant with regards to their own genre identity.

Despite the Malmö emsemble’s insistence on using post-grunge elements in the pieces’ potent brew, these are thankfully limited to a half-expressed suburban ennui in the “Will To Live” and “Palace Of Bliss” while the actuality-checking of opener “What Is Real” reveals a true-metal squeal, courtesy of Adam Nilsson’s twin-guitar approach, that’s simply irresistible, with Anders Ekenstierna’s heroic stance giving voice to the worries of today. So whereas Gabriel Jankowski’s bass and Danny Ebenholtz’s drums (over)drive the tempered aggression on “Polarize” whose bluesy licks highlight its catchy chorus, and inject tense swing into “Crisis” – a folk-infused mini-epic which will turn out belligerent as well – “Nowhere To Run” is a delicate, acoustically tinctured ballad, something rarely heard in the last decade and, therefore, most welcome.

Still, if “Faceless” teases the listener with AOR-sort of allure before offering a touch of doom-and-gloom, and “Broken Minds” marries its streamlined groove to memorable melody, “Hope” somehow makes the album’s flow lose momentum. Yet “It Only Takes One” brightens things up again, because this one record should indeed be enough to lead TDS into the future.

***4/5

January 10, 2020

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