WAIT – The End of Noise Review

Time WAITs for no sponge. This apparently holds true for my unfortunate green friend to my left, the sands of time quite literally gushing out of his be-hourglassed noggin. The oddly disturbing artwork depicting this surreal injury translates to the weird and wacky, grungy prog-death stylings of Baltimore’s WAIT (short for We are in Transit). A supergroup of sorts, the trio pulls from the pool of live performers who jammed for acts ranging from Cynic to Defeated Sanity to Obscura, so it comes as no surprise to me that debut album The End of Noise promises to be a twisted and technical affair. Whether or not it sticks the landing is another matter entirely.

As I expected, The End of Noise is a twisted and technical affair. Highly syncopated and often staccato riffing rule the roost while oddly soothing croons, falling somewhere between the improbable pairing of Alice in Chains and Alkaloid in aesthetic, gently advance the story. Drums largely follow the riff leader in an understated, but smart performance. On the other hand, the lead guitar loves to go rogue, sweeping hither and thither with playful solos and flirty flourishes. While precisely composed and sharply performed as you’d expect, WAIT are in no rush, taking their time to let everything breathe.

That relaxed approach to timing also presents a double-edged sword, functioning as the album’s greatest weakness as often as its greatest strength. Opener “Half Funeral” is a perfect example. I always forget that the five-minute-plus track isn’t fully instrumental, since vocals make me WAIT until the final minute to chime in. Doubly damning, the track’s extensive introduction recycles one riff, not nearly strong enough to stand on its own for so long, and offers little in the way of build or evolution to create momentum. This is a consistent problem across the record, in fact, with tracks like “I Climb Downhill” and “Earth’s Last Orbit” taking far too long to get anywhere worth visiting. As an unfortunate consequence, the record overall is almost entirely forgettable, leaving behind only a few grains of bloody sand left for me to remember it by.

Those grains of sand, on the flipside, showcase a band with real potential. Musicianship is top notch, with the bass and lead guitars stealing the show on a regular basis. The title track in particular highlights WAIT’s performances across the board, simultaneously dissonant and jazzy in much the same way Alkaloid and Defeated Sanity can be, albeit applied in a format which more closely resembles Periphery hybridized with Obscura in half time. It’s a standout track that deserves praise, but my favorite song is “Reverie.” Incredibly hooky in the vocal department while also offering the most accessible and effective musical composition to back it up, “Reverie” comes across like a grungy VOLA exercise. “Lone Presence Supreme” checks boxes as well, kicking off with an oddball, thrash-adjacent gallop before tumbling into a twisted bout of psychedelia, which crashes right back into a techy tantrum to close. Thankfully, WAIT scattered these stronger options around, which tightened up my perception of the album’s fifty minute runtime, and made replays much easier to bear.

This all amounts to a debut record that has great moments even if it isn’t great overall. Languid songwriting plagues the majority of The End of Noise’s bloated runtime and presents a significant obstacle to my continued appreciation for what WAIT do. Luckily for the band, I think there are a ton of viable fixes that would help: writing stronger riffs; adding much-needed variation to overcooked passages as songs age; excising entire repetitions or phrases entirely; and not making audiences WAIT four-and-a-half minutes before the first lyrics drop in. In short, The End of Noise isn’t bad, but it doesn’t have me WAITing with bated breath for whatever comes next.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: The Artisan Era
Websites: facebook.com/wait.band.official | wait.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: February 11th, 2022

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