Review: Ostraca – Enemy (Skeletal Lightning, Jul 6)

After last year’s fantastic Last I was not expecting another release from Ostraca so soon. The band plays a pleasing mixture of golden age-inspired emoviolence and patient post-rock that has only gotten more refined on Enemy; while on Last the ambientish interludes felt a bit forced and out-of-place, here they flow naturally in between the sections of brutal, affecting screamo. One such moment that really cemented Ostraca’s growth for me is the ending of “Crisis,” when a cathartic, shredding climax to minutes of crescendos and tension-building is followed by a wistful piano outro that provides a much-needed repose and moment of reflection. I do wish the band had stuck to more of the aggressive stuff in the vein of opener “Big Star;” when these sections appear, especially amidst the waves of post-metal and atmosphere construction, they are so powerful. However, I couldn’t help but notice how derivative some of the riffs and songwriting felt. It’s impossible not to draw comparisons between parts of “Pulses” and a certain, uh, flowery golden age band, and while that isn’t the worst thing in the world to imitate it would be much more refreshing to hear something completely original. Luckily, Enemy ends strong with “Nemesis,” probably Ostraca’s best song yet, and makes me incredibly optimistic for what they have in store next. They’ve certainly come a long way from their Kilgore Trout days, and despite Enemy’s flaws it doesn’t detract from their status as one of the best screamo bands right now.