By Jesse Jester
Band – Conversion Delay
Album / Label – Out of Sight / unsigned
Rating – 2.5 / 5
Conversion Delay are a four-piece outfit from Columbus with 2 LPs to their credit. Formed in 2012, they don’t like to label themselves as anything other than “independent”, which is alright by me. The guys allowed us a peak at their newest EP, “Out of Sight.” It’s a six-song journey through darkness, highlighted with tons of loud fuzzy guitars.
The opening track, UltraViolence opens with a lot of fuzz, before building into a lot of noise. There’s frantic drumming, a pacing piano backbone and lots of clashy cymbals. The song itself isn’t terrible from a rock-n-roll standpoint, but the driving piano kind of throws the listener for a loop. As the song fades down, the distortion picks up with a lot of yelling. I’m not sure if the gang vocal is meant to feel tough or brutal, but it just ends up adding to the wall of noise.
The second track is definitely a fresh breath. Aptly titled Hope, lead singer Nathaniel Grosh belts out “All we have is hope, and I don’t even have that”. The whine in his voice wouldn’t be out of place with a mid-2000s heavier emo outfit, but that isn’t a bad thing for a song like this. It’s catchy and upbeat despite its dreary outlook. It sounds like the kind of song that would probably jump out at you in a live setting.
On the third track, we finally find a bass-line, something that seems to be drowned out in most of the bands songs. Gray Imagination seems to either be about a drug trip (or a lucid daydream), and either way… paints an interesting, noise filled picture. The bass continues to pace the song as Grosh whispers lines through the creepy tale. “Pay no attention to that gray imagination. Out of sight, out of mind, black or white, get behind one or the other”. You can feel a lot of anger and angst as the song hits its crescendo at the 3:30 mark and thunders on home.
The next song, Under the Radar, opens with a bit of punk rock flair, then slows down for what seems to be a chorus, before jumping all over the place with screaming and distortion. For a song that starts off with a promising beat, it unfortunately devolves into another frantic amount of noise that doesn’t seem to accomplish much. It’s a brilliant opening guitar line, but the rest of the song fails to live up to what you might expect.
Plastic opens with a soft acoustic guitar and a small kick drum. The song then progresses at an almost ballad-like pace. Grosh asks a poignant question, “I’m just wondering how long it’s been since I felt something that wasn’t covered up in plastic”, which unfortunately is about ten words too many to be said in one breath. It’s almost too clever of a line for its own good; it trips over itself as it comes out and leaves you scratching your head. This softer acoustic sound is promising and a decent diversion from the fuzz-heavy tracks that precede it, but just past the three-minute mark, the guitars drop in and the cymbals start exploding again. Again, I understand what the band was going for, but I think the song would be best left as a softer gem.
Finally, we find Strangers, another slow building song. Once again, Grosh gives us a wonderfully clever chorus line, “Electronic strangers telling me that it gets better, yeah that it gets better. But it stays the same.” It’s a line that anyone who has ever dealt with high anxiety and depression can relate to; encompassing an almost desolate feeling of isolation and loneliness. It’s a solid track, but like every other song on the album, it seems to be missing just a little bit that would push it over the top.
One thing I’ve noticed lately in music, is that a lot of bands rely heavily on distortion and noise to mask a smaller lineup. It works well for bands like Royal Blood and Ohio’s own Black Keys, but it’s a difficult sound to duplicate without tons of extra production and tracking.
In Columbus, I’ve seen a lot of bands use heavy distortion to mask other lacking members, but Conversion Delay is not a band lacking talent. Unfortunately, there seems to be a confusing amount of piano on this album, as well as a lot of drowned-out bass guitar. Which is a shame, because all of the songs that highlight the heavier strings seem to shine. They seem like a band who I would love to see live.
They’re an outfit with a ton of on-stage energy and angst, but it just doesn’t seem to translate to much more than a lot of loud noise on “Out of Sight”. There’s good noise, bad noise, and just noise to fill your ears. So, if distortion and chaos is your thing, this is definitely for you.
Conversion Delay – Gray Imagination