I must admit, on the first couple of listens to the Cornucopia EP, the music brought me back to high school when I had bands like Veruca Salt and Throwing Muses on heavy rotation in my Sony Discman. The question is: was it solely the nostalgia for my high school listening habits that lead me to appreciate this largely estrogen-laced pop metal? Kind of.
The first song on the EP, “Capture,” is a largely disjointed mess of a melody that switches time signatures in a way that simply makes the song unlistenable. To top it off, Lalena’s somewhat nasal and weak voice was severely off key on an already off-key and disjointed melody. Additionally, the song is accompanied by lyrics that are ripped straight out of a bad teenage poet’s notebook: “All seems clear if I could capture this/with the sun exactly where it is.”
Okay, so it gets better.
“I Had a Dirty Dream About You” could be the band’s first single if they emerge from the New York art-metal scene ghetto. Forgoing the complicated yet poorly executed “math rock” time signatures for straight up Pandora’s-esque garage rock, this song combines a simple chord progression, dynamic drum rhythms and mischievously sexy lyrics to create a… well… highly danceable rock song. And yes, I did find myself dancing.
The rest of the album, continuing to remain in the vein of dark prog-pop metal, is neither as unfortunate as “Capture” nor as delightful as “I Had a Dream About You.” I was impressed at their ability to make dark yet danceable metal songs without veering into Lacuna Coil territory. There are some weak spots on the album, but they manage to cover them up quite well with an excellent ear for harmony.
The Color Guard is not likely to break any major boundaries in music, either generally or in the prog-metal genre. However, the DVD accompanying Cornucopia--a live performance at CBGB’s gallery--showcases an exceptional live band that combines a love of theatrical performance with solid musical ability. Perhaps through their live performances, and not their records, is where they will transcend musical expectations.