EP REVIEW: Parting Gift – Ensom
In their short existence Parting Gift have already made a strong start to their career, having scored opening slots for pop-punk outfit Neck Deep and the considerably more metallic Blood Youth, as well as an upcoming opening slot with labelmates Underoath, both acts being on Fearless Records. Now the band release their new EP Ensom – does it justify the investment and attention?
Pale is a very strong, very forceful introduction, opening with just a moment before your attacked with blastbeats and a guitar line that, for this brief moment, brings a shade of Deafheaven to proceedings. Zac Vernon‘s vocal pitch is very reminiscent of Daniel Tompkins of Tesseract, and this is no bad thing on its own, as Vernon does plenty with his voice to mark himself out as his own vocalist. A recurring theme throughout this EP is the strength of the choruses. 3:07 (Moonlight), for the most part, continues the good work following the first track, slowing the pace but somewhat ending a bit too abruptly and never quite taking off like you wish it would.
The standout track in the EP, Without Sin, is an icy, gothic-esque number that in mood at least recalls Swedish legends Katatonia. This is the song that clearly shows off the band’s ambition best, moving smoothly through moods and with a corker of a chorus to complete the composition. The way the vocals slowly fade into the ether on the final repeat of the chorus is also very noteworthy, doing a wonderful job of completing the mood. Also, for a song that’s a hair’s breadth under six minutes, it absolutely flies by like its half that time at most.
Unfortunately, Cold follows up. This is an interlude style track that provides very little and just throws the momentum that has been built into a blender, set to maximum power with the lid left unattached. The entire final minute of it seems completely superfluous and befuddles the listener, leaving the transition into the final track almost an afterthought. At their best, these sorts of moments can create a stunningly beautiful sense of relief and transition, but at their worst its like being offered a half baked potato.
Ensom however, is a massive step up and a good way to end this musical journey. Another entry into the massive chorus canon can be found here, powered by blastbeats playing against the impassioned vocals. The use of dynamics and the sense of closure and finality is very strong here. The final notes of the outro almost sound like they are conveying a sense of release, peaceful after the noise torrents preceding it.
Throughout the EP, Vernon’s vocals are front and centre in the mix, and the guitar work from Peter Vybiral and Jack Dutton sounds suitably clear and punchy. Paradoxically, the major flaw of this EP, as well as one its biggest successes, is how the vocals are used. With the exception of Without Sin, they don’t always convey the darkness that is clearly intended when you take the lyrics on their own.
It’s striking that in this EP there’s clearly an abundance of ideas, ranging from blackgaze to radio-friendly choruses and a desire to not just be one straight-down-the-line thing. Whilst not all of it works, which leads to a few moments of running before they can fully walk, it’s impossible to escape the feeling that this band will be, dare we say it, a gift that keeps on giving as their career moves forward. It’s a question of when they nail it, rather than if, as the potential this band has is mountainous in its scale.
Standout Tracks: Without Sin, Ensom
For Fans Of: Holding Absence, Modern Error, Crooks
Written by: Louis Tsangarides