Coming out with an EP as overcast and grim as the skies in Portland from where they hail, Dowager are firmly marking their territory in the same vein as Orchid and contemporaries Loma Prieta, a type of screamo that immediately harkens back to previous eras when the genre was at its strongest, and straddles the production of today, informing it with a contemporary enthusiasm that has allowed its revival in the past decade or so.
The strength of the album is its stronghanded approach to intensity, with noodling, desperate guitar lines over frantic progressions and vocals that are perfectly suited to the mood that the band are attempting to capture. And they succeed in several important ways, not least of which is the way they are able to establish intense parts and then undercut them as all good screamo acts should, with complex mathy parts and despairing breakdowns of emotional, vocal solitude. This is an album that knows the parts it needs to play, and executes them with aplomb. It exhibits a remarkable level of interest and attention to details laid down by previous forebears in that world, and summons up memories of many of these groups bands previously mentioned above.
It's a well-executed formula, but I don't think it would be unfair that this soon verges on formulaic. There are some neat spins and, overall, the execution is solid and aggressive and introspective, the way a good screamo record should be. I look forward to what the band have to elaborate on going forward, and perhaps adding some twists that can separate them from the pack a bit more. Otherwise, this is a seriously solid screamo album that should serve to establish the Dowager as a force to be reckoned with.
Title Track Track Listing:
03. Sleep Paralysis
04. Model Home