Vinyl Special – †††, by ††† (Crosses)

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Released February 11, 2014

56 min, 15 sec

††† (pronounced “Crosses”) has a bit of a strange history as a band. They emerged in 2011 with an EP, simply named EP †, featuring five tracks and quite a bit of promise for the band. Adopting a more aggressively electronic sound than Chino Moreno’s main band, Deftones, ††† is reminiscent, in many ways, of Moreno’s previous project Team Sleep. †††’s sound is best defined as spooky and sinister, Moreno’s voice being a bright spot in the band’s sound for many of their songs.

EP † was followed by a second EP, aptly named EP ††, in January of 2012, which, again, featured five tracks, alongside a host of bonus features. They made their live debut at Coachella, as well, and it looked as though a third EP was on track for release later that year. Instead, however, Moreno returned to Deftones to finish an album with them, and ††† fell into a hiatus for much of 2012 and 2013, even as Moreno began yet another side-project.

When the group finally resurfaced in late 2013, a third EP was scrapped, and the band instead announced the release of a full-length album. This album, †††, combined EP † and EP †† with the five tracks initially intended for EP †††, the tracks mixed in together on the album (following the pattern of a track from EP †, then a track from EP ††, then a new track) to form a complete, cohesive studio effort.

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There was a lot of disappointment surrounding the album when it was revealed to be, essentially, a compilation album. That disappointment is warranted, sure, but I think that having every track combined into a single album makes it a lot easier to distribute in a physical manner, particularly on vinyl. The tracks also meld together well; if one were to listen to ††† without having heard the component EPs, it would likely play incredibly well as a single unit.

Not to mention that the music itself is great. The band shifts between fast-paced, aggressive tracks like “This is a Trick” and slow jams like “Nineteen Ninety-Four” amazingly well. Much of this can be attributed to Moreno’s substantial vocal prowess – the man is really an amazing singer, versatile and adaptive. But that’s not to take away from collaborators Shaun Lopez and Chuck Doom, who put together a varied, provocative musical soundscape behind Moreno, taking advantage of a wide variety of electronics alongside heavy guitars and pounding synthesized drums. Highlights on here, for me, include new track “The Epilogue” and “Prurient,” two of the brightest, most upbeat tracks on the entire album, alongside doom-and-gloom songs like “This is a Trick” and “Death Bell.”

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On the topic of the vinyl, I was rather frustrated by it. It’s kind of thinly pressed, which isn’t a big deal, but I bought the white copy, and, as you can see, there are brown marks all over both records. This isn’t the first white vinyl I’ve had this happen to, either – I used to own Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns, which was pressed on white vinyl for the Super Deluxe Edition of the album, and that had massive purple splotches all over the second record. Maybe it’s a side-effect of the pressing process and it’s more obvious on white vinyl than other colors, but it’s really annoying. Not to mention the fact that my copy shipped like a month late.

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There’s also the fact that ††† has nowhere to go from here. ††† felt like an end goal, and now that it’s been out for a while, I’m afraid that the band will fade away into nothingness as Chino Moreno returns to his home in Deftones, just like Team Sleep before it. I think ††† is a great band that has a lot to build on and work towards, and it’s disappointing to think that potential may never be realized.

Then again, Team Sleep is reportedly working on a new album this year, ten years removed from their debut, so what do I know?

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