For a moment, I will be taking my foot off of the video game and anime songs. My more regular music listening rotation, after all, is far from exclusively defined by those terms. Thus, how about going a little into a personal recent discovery that I’ve been frequently returning to as of late?
The Trouble With Angels
Filter are most widely known for their output from the 90's. I myself first heard of them through “Hey Man Nice Shot”, and “Take a Picture” seemed to have also been a pretty solid hit as well. Even well beyond a decade after those days close to the forefront, however, they have still been around, making music up until very recently—complete with an album back in just 2016, in fact.
Thanks to the advent of Spotify, when I randomly got interested again in the band after only sticking with 1995's Short Bus for the past long while, I added a few of their more recent albums to my songlist. The Trouble With Angels, from 2010, was the first of them, mainly because the one with the killer album opener “The Inevitable Relapse” seemed like the best place for a reintroduction. Since then, that track has been overtaken by another song entirely from the same album as a big favorite of mine.
Now, I have always liked Filter, and that is in large part because it seems like they may be kindred spirits of mine in some ways. That especially took hold when checking out the liner notes of Short Bus, where this rock band vouched for this attitude towards electronic music that I am absolutely positively on board with:
There is a certain subset of musicians who for reasons unknown adhere to the false premise that “electronic” music or the tools involved imply a lack of creativity or inspired performance. Technology in the hands of creative, intelligent individuals is a tool for art, not a hindrance. Filter, being members of the current millennia, admit freely to the use of such devices.
Granted, that’s just a matter of philosophy. But in practice, where things truly count the most, it also happens to seep into their output in a good way. Filter is a far more producer-centric band than the usual, with a level of meticulousness to how they shape their sounds that is practically geeky. Many of their songs prioritize being sonic constructs as much (if not more) as rocking socks off—see: the chorus riff in “Hey Man Nice Shot”—and that is an approach I can respect.
“No Re-Entry” is an especially potent example of where that attitude shines. In the broadest strokes, this is one of those emotionally sweeping, slow hard rock anthems (e.g. Breaking Benjamin - “Dear Agony”) that will raise lighters to the sky. Yet that foundation gets mutated by Filter’s plateau of instrumentation and effects—electric organs, theremins, the choice of guitar tone combined with heavy reverb—along with the inert low-speed rhythm, miming as it does a body spinning and floating in zero gravity, to heavily invoke an outer-space atmosphere.
Altogether, it sounds gorgeous, and it even manages to do that while simultaneously being intense. Considering that “re-entry” is the act of an object traveling from space to a planet’s ground, often to fiery effect as it speeds through the atmosphere, it is rather appropriate. Especially when being used in service of a metaphor for irreversible choices. I’ve even come around, though it took a little while, to fully embracing Richard Patrick’s extremely raspy delivery of the vocals. The grit and emotion behind them are too strong to ignore when part of the epic sweep of the moment.
My favorite section by far is the one and a half minute instrumental bridge following the second chorus, starting with the guitar and electric organ chords getting a spotlight on how ethereal they sound. It then goes into an incredible electric piano solo, as if the stars are twinkling in sequence. Capping it off is a rapidly descending flurry of notes practically jacked right from “Riders On The Storm”, closing out its moment of glory nicely.
Lighters up, everyone.
RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime.