By Design is a group comprised of Brandon Krantz and Kristin Vrona. They hail from Dekalb, Il and recently released their followup to Grasping at a Lead Balloon. The new EP Permanent Measures features four songs and felt like a proper followup that I would say slightly expands on their sound.
The songs are emotive and often serious in that same way I feel when I listen to a band like Tool. This isn’t too surprising given the fact that their influences include bands like A Perfect Circle, Chevelle and Deftones.
The EP opens with “Derailed.” Vrona’s silky vocals are laid against an ambient, ethereal soundscape. I had a feeling the song was going to rock and that was the case. There are some inventive percussive elements that when combined with the distorted guitars bring the band into new territory. Additionally, Vrona finds some of her most memorable vocal melodies on these songs. She sings, “If they ever steal your final thought / They’re holding onto, they're holding onto you / If you ever feel nothing at all.”
Next up is “Same as Yesterday” which hits hard and heavy right off the bat. The guitar work is great with a lead on the verse that had my attention. That being said the chant like vocals that emerge are a new tool in their arsenal that I don’t remember hearing before. There are a number of other inventive transitions such as around the two-and-a-half minute mark. It’s here the band plays with dynamics like they never have before, which then lead to an absolutely wicked groove about a minute later.
“Collapsible” is similar to the first song in that it starts with soundscape and vocals. This song however is more of a slow burn with waves of white noise and distortion. I was reminded a little more of drone metal in the spirit of Sunn O))).
“Exposure Therapy” is arguably the highlight. It’s another example of the band expanding on their sound. You can hear this in the way the initial soundscape unwraps and explodes into intense drumming. They cover so much ground within the first minute. On top of that Vrona kills it.
By Design definitely has a sound that veers towards darker thought provoking themes. It’s music that demands your attention. I love it when I hear a band evolve and that’s what you have here. They obviously wanted to explore what they were capable of and this EP is a testament to their growth. Recommended.
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