Straight Line Stitch - When Skies Wash Ashore
Straight Line Stitch – When Skies Wash Ashore
By Rikki O.
Alexis Brown - Vocals (from To Be Godlike onwards)
Seth Thacker - Guitar
Pat Pattison - Guitar
Jason White - Bass
Patrick Haynes – Drums
Knoxville, Tennessee is not exactly the first place you think of when you ponder the birthplace of a gender defying, death growling band; and yet that is precisely the origins of Straight Line Stitch. Though the band has been together for over nine years, their true beginning happened in 2003, when dynamic front woman Alexis Brown ditched her old band, gathered some rage, and joined SLS. Relentless touring and a 2006 self-released album called To Be Godlike eventually caught the attention of Raging Nation Films' Dale "Rage" Resteghini, the award winning director who has worked with hundreds of bands including Fall Out Boy, Hatebreed, and Mudvayne. He went on to direct the intense video for Godlike's "Remission" (which has since been retooled as "Promise Me" on When Skies Wash Ashore), shot entirely in 35MM right here in Atlanta; in 2007 he also chose Straight Line Stitch to be the very first band to sign on his newly created KOCH imprint, Raging Nation Records. Finally finding a home seems to suit SLS; their sound is tighter and more focused than ever before, and the justly-deserved accolades are finally rolling in.
Though Alexis has gone on the record saying that being a woman who sings metalcore has not hindered her in any way, it deserves to be said that it is not an easy path to take musically. In general, women who take on a powerful role rather than becoming simple, sexual objects in this business tend to become easy targets for censor in the media. Maybe because they are deemed threatening by not allowing themselves to be pigeonholed into easily definable roles, maybe because the very act of owning the power and fervor that comprises this genre of music requires nerve, courage and a tenacity that must not wince in the faces of all those who want to shoot you down and make you fit in their pre-made script; regardless of the fountainhead that feeds the sexism, kudos to the few women out there that defy those rules. If that's not the very essence of hard core rebellion, then please tell me what the fuck is? </rant>
I bring this up because when I first heard SLS's latest release When Skies Wash Ashore, I was immediately stopped cold the moment I heard Alexis' voice; she seamless switches between throat shredding growls and melodic choruses as effortlessly as a traffic light during rush hour on tracks like Promise Me and Euchrist. Her multi-octave range frenzies as hard as any dude behind a mike, and easily transitions into a soulful, nearly R&B singing style that makes SLS totally unique in what they bring to the table. Add behind her the pounding bass lines of Jason White, intricate guitar playing of Seth Thacker and Pat Pattison (whose name is hella fun to say aloud), and the rhythmic summoning of drummer Patrick Haynes and it's no wonder that Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed called as a fan and offered to do a song with them. That particular track, Taste Of Ashes, is just begging for a video to be made of Alexis and Jamey screaming back at forth to each other. The raw emotion and range of textural landscapes on When Skies Wash Ashore never gets monotonous and keeps you enthralled from the beginning to the end of the 10 track album; each track offers a different sentiment and shade of passion unleashed. The last track, Yesterday's Gone, strips away all of the bone breaking metal and truly shows the vulnerable angel-within-the-demon power of Alexis' voice ("I'd catch the next train going anywhere/If I knew you were there").
Though she may not consider herself so, Alexis is a perfect example of what a modern feminist looks like. She is expanding the possibilities for other girls out there to find ways to express themselves outside of the role of either sex object or bitch; she comes across as neither and still manages to be a powerful force demanding to be noticed and reckoned with. When Skies Was Ashore is a cd that I will continue to listen to even after this review goes to press; in a vast musical world where the cookie cutter formula is God, I have nothing but the highest praise for a band that defies all that in lieu of making stereotypes their bitch instead of the other way around.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I predict Alexis and the rest of Straight Line Stitch will be THE female death growler band of '09. - Barb