The Secession Movement – We Need a Hill

The Secession Movement
We Need a Hill

Everything about this album – from the obscure label to the bright colors and shapes of shaggy-haired hipsters on the cover-art – just screamed high school garage band. I cringed at the thought of listening to another such album, until I realized a fellow writer not only reviewed this New Jersey band’s previous album but raved about it. And all of my doubts were dispersed as the first song hit my ears. Pristine production, stellar instrumentation, unique vocals, and the maturity that comes from playing together for almost six years makes The Secession Movement the real thing.
This album is so good, in fact, it’s been a constant mainstay in my CD player over the past few weeks. The Secession Movement is likely to get lumped in with the oft-maligned emo trend – think Penfold, Jersey fellows that The Secession Movement at times sound a bit like – but I quickly draw comparisons more to At the Drive-In and ex-ATDI band Sparta in light of the band’s more aggressive style. David Downham’s voice is comfortable singing or yelping out the lyrics, the guitars perfectly melodic yet aggressive, the rhythm complex yet safely this side of math-rock. It’s a strong combination.
The opening track may have the unfortunately emo name “Screaming About Girls,” but from the opening lyrics (“Oh grace / I never knew it as a tactic / I could never more than taste / what it was that you liked”) to the melodic guitars and stellar vocals, it’s the best kind of emo, and it hints at the more aggressive sound to come. A killer bassline and almost punk-like intense vocals give “Bathing Light” my first immediate At the Drive-In reference. The production is every bit as good as that band, the guitars and rhythm every bit as complex, the vocals every bit as intense and strong.
The almost groove-like rock of “We Are Prone” brings to mind Dismemberment Plan at times, while the drive of “Breathe the Month Ashore” raises comparisons to seminal post-hardcore bands; think Drive Like Jehu or Jawbreaker. The quiet “Bloodsuckers Local 123” is a subtle break in the middle of the album, while “Jangled” greatly picks up the intensity again. The punk-rock attitude on this song is a perfect fit for the soaring guitars and rhythm. “Hope Stung” has some shouted punk vocals as well as melodic guitars and softly song vocals, but it’s clearly one of the album’s more urgent tracks. “Hit the Ground” is up-tempo and catchy, and “Fear Delay” is complex and intense in a more toned-down Fugazi sort of way. There’s even hints of steel drums used here; how’s that for unique?
There’s a lot of truth to the old adage of not telling a book by its cover. You miss out on a lot of good music if you label a band on first impressions. The Secession Movement is one of the tightest, more impressive bands I’ve heard in the emo/post-hardcore genre since I first discovered At the Drive-In – and they’re not at all a clone of that band no matter how many times I’ve referenced them here. This is great stuff: intense at the right moments, moody at others, but always tight and powerful. I highly recommend discovering this band, because soon they’ll be a household name … at least in the indie-rock community.