Camden, Ohio's progressive rock band Sensei is an interesting mix of influences and tastes. The band has shrouded itself in mystery. I don't know who plays what or who their vocalist is. I promise it's not from a lack of digging. That's okay though. I like a little mystery. Sensei's latest album is Flora and Fauna, and for me it felt like two albums smashed together. I feel I would appreciate each style separately, but when put together I had a harder time with it. Please read so I can elaborate because I believe the group to be talented, and there were several things I liked.
As I state, there are two albums working against each other. The first is a trippy alt-rock experience with free flying guitar and bass riffs. It's great. The other is a modern screamo album that borders on punk and houses a solid subversive message. The vocal talent is fantastic; he has a fantastic range that winds around the lyrics perfectly when he's singing. He can also scream it out like a champ. Again, these two sounds separated from one another I think would be amazing. I would probably buy both albums, but it's a lot to be packed into the five tracks of this singular album.
You'll hear it immediately with track one "Junebugs." It starts off with a jammy rock vibe that's chill and really showcases that singing talent. The song is pretty lengthy and toward the end you get an abrupt transition into a screamo song without any warning. The issue being I was pretty happy in that chill place they had built. I wasn't ready to leave. Some of the tracks do attempt to separate the two sounds, but there's traces of both in every song and I found it perplexing. These people are talented musicians. I love their play with song structure and their ability to diversify tracks with different moods. To whoever it is that plays the guitar, that person made quite an impression. This guitarist was a strong thread that pulled all of these sounds into a cohesive album.
One of the commendable things done with this album is the production which was done by Moonlight Studios. Considering there were essentially two completely different genres at play in any given track, the music was given its proper wings. My only grievance was the ample amount of distortion utilized. In many instances it was just too heavy handed and buried things I really wanted to hear, especially on the musical end. Other than that, production had the finger on the button of what the group wanted to achieve and whether I personally like it or not, the production was spot on for what the project needed.
I appreciate the experimentation and creativity it took to decide to place these two sounds next to each other even if the chasm was too broad for me at times. I will say I am curious enough to want to hear them have another go at it.
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