District 97, Screens (2019)
- Leslie Hunt, Vocals
- Andrew Lawrence, Keyboards
- Jim Tashjian, Guitars and vocals
- Tim Seisser, Bass guitar
- Jonathan Schang, Drums and percussion
- Forest Fire
- Sea I Provide
- Bread & Yarn
- After Orbit Mission
- Ghost Girl
Calling District 97 “progressive metal” is far too short-sighted. The Chicago band’s skill set enables them to use an eclectic array of influences to bring forth a youthful sound steeped in tradition. Few things are more enjoyable than hearing a band grow before your very ears, which is precisely what this band is doing.
The singing voice of Leslie Hunt brings a sense of tender muscularity to what could easily have been a testosterone overload provided by the rest of the band, particularly guitarist Jim Tashjian and drummer Jonathan Schang, who leave molten shrapnel in their musical wake. Bassist Tim Seisser offers solid grooves, while keyboardist Andrew Lawrence offers a nice sense of balance in key places throughout the album.
The band wastes no time getting the ball rolling with “Forest Fire,” a stutter-step rocker that provides the heat behind its title. The group’s sound is tight and cohesive throughout, never giving in to the temptations of heavy metal excess. The combination of talents within the group give Screens a sort of rock-operatic sound capable of appealing to multiple sides of the listener’s minds.
Songs like “Sheep” do a great job of keeping the sound heavy without overwhelming the listener with unintelligible sound. Everything the band is offering can be made out with crystal clarity. This is important, as there is a great deal of rather complex information being brought forth, particularly from the keyboard stand. But even that complexity is accessible. No one should feel alienated by what the band is offering. There is something here for everyone.
Music fans looking for a good entry into the world of progressive metal would be well served to start with District 97. They will take you on a most interesting journey and leave you none the worse for wear.
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