A total mish-mash of influences is on display on Ink Procedure’s self-titled album Ink Procedure but the key components are easily discerned in the early going. The opener “This is Why” gives us some familiar pop-punk earmarks upon which to build a foundation, from Tristan McVeigh's delivery (punctuated with noticeably sharp breaths between lines and just the slightest edge) to the simple jangling guitar riff that carries the track. However, the five-piece takes on the genre in a decidedly acoustic fashion. Beyond the rhythm guitar they play about with orchestral themes crafted by piano and violin creating an organic sound that, strangely enough, does more to compliment the vocals than to fight against them.
The lyrics tread on tried and true territory for modern punk fans as our heroes struggle with happiness, loss, internal strife, etc. but there's something to it that makes me think it's tongue-in-cheek much of the time. The opening line to “Don't Go to a Bar on Sunday” (quote: “Well I'm sorry you met me in such a difficult time in my life”) is delivered with enough of a sneer as to suggest that the whole song is just a thumb in the eye to anthems of teenage angst. But then pianist Dana Bouchey takes up vocals on the second verse (sounding, it must be said, a tad like Amy Lee) and suddenly things become more earnest and palpable.
Likewise, “Midnight on Christmas” does the same trick but in reverse: Bouchey offers a slow plea at the start before everything begins to thump: the drums pick up the pace to match the thudding strum of an electric guitar (in a rare moment when the electric takes on a star role). By the time McVeight delivers his best visceral metal scream the very attitude of the song has gone from gothic pining to manic alt-rock battle cry. The focus of the writing seems to be doom and gloom but the songs generally move too quickly to take it seriously, not to mention they are rich with catchy hooks. I wouldn't argue that they're being melodramatic—it never feels forced enough for that. It's more like a cathartic celebration.
The EP closes on an interesting note: a demo track called “Los Angeles.” Bouchey takes up vocal duties all on her lonesome (whereas on previous tracks vocals are shared with McVeight in some capacity) and is accompanied by nothing more than acoustic guitar and violin. There's no hint of the rest of the EP's pacing here as things slow to a crawl (comparatively, anyway). It has more of a folk feel than anything else, and while some will question including the song in this rough form, giving Bouchey a song to herself is a delightful surprise to end on. She doesn't sing with the usual punk voices and without the swell of the full band playing in the background she has more room to show off her expressive range.
While not a total reinvention of the wheel, Ink Procedure goes in enough different directions to warrant attention. The humor is there (and can also be seen in the video for “This is Why,” which I also recommend), the more classical music elements add a unique layer of depth to the arrangements and there's enough brief instances of genre fusion throughout to keep things fresh without losing the punk identity. Certainly a good start.
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