Oh man, the Internetz are abuzz with love for this record already. Apparently everyone and their dog who runs a review website got this album 3 months ago and has been subsequently shitting themselves over the awesome!!!! that is Thomas Giles‘ Pulse. A bit of background information as to why that might be. Yeah, because this is the vocalist from Between the Buried and Me. Yup. That’s it. I want to state with all certainty that if this were an independent record put out by a dude actually named Thomas Giles who wasn’t in a band that was well-respected even though being associated with a scene that everyone hates, this record would not be listened to by metal guys or reviewed on a metal website. Because this record is not metal. It contains minor bits o’ metal, but it for the large part a progressive-indie-electronica record. So be forewarned.
That said, if this music was released by some dude actually named Thomas Giles who really was just an indie dude making music in his basement, it would still be excellent and it would be pretty unique. In a sense, this is 2011’s response to progressive/symphonic rock and it succeeds tremendously. The music is smart and pop-sensible with amazing and simplistic melodies that catch the listener and stick to him or her like puddy. The writing is concise and each song has its own personality, ranging between piano bits and acoustic indie folk laced with vocal melodies that remind me of The Dear Hunter and Cynic at times (on “Mr. Bird,” for example) and hardcore industrial beats with tortured screams and little-to-no melody at all like “Catch and Release” which screams of Trent Reznor’s angriest moments. And, of course, any number of variations in between bordering on VNV Nation and System of a Down and at times Three or Coheed and Cambria while still maintaining progressive integrity.
So while Pulse in essence maintains what makes Between the Buried and Me the only band with a sentence name that I respect, that is the ability to take a number of styles and turn them into cool songs, Thomas Giles actually is better because it feels more cohesive. Instead of having that kind of copy-and-paste feel that BtBaM has, Thomas Giles has a distinctive and beautiful voice with melancholic melody being sort of the tie that binds. And, of course, this has a hell of a lot to do with vocalist Tommy Rogers.
Pulse is definitely a showcase of the fact that Tommy Rogers is a musical force to be reckoned with on his own away from BtBaM. He shines throughout the album for all the obvious reasons, since it’s self-produced and he wrote and played all the instruments. But the less obvious is that a vocalist of any other kind of caliber would not have been able to hold this album together. Because the voice, as I said, is the thing that holds all of these tracks together. Being the staple which keeps all of these divergent styles in place isn’t easy because it means having to be able to be both dynamic and stable over time. A lot of this is taken care of in the production, obviously filters and reverb and the like are necessary for this kind of project, but I do believe that this is simply about Tommy Rogers being a damn good vocalist with a superb feel for the music and sense of melody.
So for those of you who are open-minded enough to be able to handle this kind of weird electronica-indie record from the vocalist of a band that you might not even like, this is worth checking out. I’ll go out of my way to say that this is actually probably one of the better progressive records that I’ve heard in a while. And while it’s not perfect, certainly the heavier material is actually a bit of a weakness here (the riff from the track “Medic” is really boring and the melody there could have been better), the record is full of fantastic ideas, intelligent arrangements and beautiful melodies that will keep you coming back again and again.