The Amsterdam Red Light District - “Sapere Aude” [Album Review]

- Mar 01, 2018 at 03:06PM
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Rating: 7 out of 10
For the entirety of its decade-plus of existence, I’ve seen France’s The Amsterdam Red Light District referenced in a way that’s made me shake my head and do that raise-a-single-eyebrow expression of confusion. It’s not just the Gallic post-hardcore quartet being compared to bands that I absolutely do not like, but it’s how I’ve had to question my own crap filter and wonder what I’m missing. The matter of putting my taste under a microscope is not at issue; there should be no guilty pleasure in musical enjoyment. We all like what we like and there’s all kinds of garbage in all of our record collections. What’s at stake here is more personal; it was about what I was possibly missing.

This particular set of lugs are hearing a band barrelling out more from the propulsive and angular side of post-hardcore/punk as opposed to the lightweight, day-glo coloured, all-over print stuff kids will withstand punishing heat to experience on the Warped Tour. Indeed, TARLD’s propensity for hyper-melodic passages and cleaner vocals combined with modern (read: sterilised) production values nudges a fair share of the nitty-gritty out of their presentation. But, there’s still more Refused, Comeback Kid, and Norma Jean to them than any of the haircut-core-with-nü-metal-tendencies bands that Kerrang! and Alternative Press sledgehammer suburban mall punks over the head with.

Admittedly, Sapere Aude – which boldly translates to “dare to know/think for yourself” and is a nod to philosopher Immanuel Kant’s Enlightenment movement – is TARLD’s brightest and biggest sounding album; one that points at the rafters of mid-sized arenas instead of the exposed beams of shitty dive bars. The hip-hop cadence driving “The Whole City Burns,” the ridiculously melodic Fat Wreck-styled chorus of “Evil Stakeholders” and those moments where guitarist Maxime Comby lapses into major keys in the midst of a perfectly darkened riff storm (“Nobody Moves Like You”) speak to genteel listeners who like their aggression with a PG rating.

But the band hasn’t given up on the power of big hammer-on/pull-off riffs, bigger harmonies and some painful screaming from Elio Sxone. “The Best is Yet to Come” is an anthemic dance floor filler a la The Shape of Punk to Come, “Carry On” pounds the downbeat like Every Time I Die with bump stocks firmly wedged in their rectums whilst the double bass and djent-y guitars of “Need” reference prog metal’s young buck, seven-string slingers.

TARLD’s third album does take blatant steps towards a more palpable and populist sound. However, there’s still a connection to punk rock’s rebellious underbelly which has the propensity to get lost behind the finely tuned sonics. Though the Trump mash up/edit in the title track demonstrates politics and a contrarian attitude is still in their makeup. This makes for a conspicuously transitional album, one that sets the table for the band to go in different directions come the future. Only time will tell what happens next.

Sapere AudeTrack Listing:

01. Nobody Moves Like You
02. The Best is Yet to Come
03. Need
04. Wild Life
05. Carry On
06. Over the Fence
07. Waiting for the Day
08. The Whole City Burns
09. Evil Stakeholders
10. Sapere Aude

Run Time: 35:00
Release Date: March 2, 2018

Be sure to get a taste of the new album via the band's video for their “Feed” single.

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