REVIEW: The Ongoing Concept - Saloon

Genre: Experimental Metal/Hardcore
Label: Solid State
Date of Release: August 20, 2013


In Rathsburg, Idaho, three brothers and a childhood friend of theirs formed a band called The Ongoing Concept in 2009. They released two EP's over the years, one in 2010 (What is  My Destiny) and another in the following year (Arrows Before Bullets). After signing to Solid State Records (August Burns Red, Becoming The Archetype), the quartet would release their first full-length record entitled "Saloon."

This album seems to consist of two halves: The first half that is incredibly well-done and engaging, and the second half that is still really enjoyable, but not quite as good as the first. Starting with the former, there is a lot to admire about the formula this band approaches. It mixes western rock with crazed, experimental metal and hardcore into a very energized and somewhat creative sound. 

The title track best demonstrates this, as it's definitely the greatest highlight of the release 
(For best results, listen to it following the intro "Let's Deal the Cards Again"). The extremely ranged vocals from wild screams and shrieks to upbeat singing, crazed guitar play and percussion, and effects such as clapping and saloon-esque piano-playing join forces to create a masterfully-crafted and vigorous piece. 

Guitarist and vocalist Dawson Scholz was the one behind the album's production, and it really turned out well. It sounds raw enough to bring out the power that the instruments bring and give the music that old-western feel to it. On the other hand, it also sounds polished enough to make the music crisp and accessible. The mixing is definitely another area of "Saloon" worthy of praise.

As for the second half of this album, it's not like everything starts to plummet downhill; it's just not exactly as engaging and memorable as the first one. In terms of energy and memorability, tracks such as the title song and "Cover Girl" hold up a little better than something like "Class of Twenty-Ten." This portion still has a lot to offer, however; "Class of Twenty-Ten" is still a very entertaining track, and the final track "Goodbye, So Long My Love" is a heartfelt exit that still parallels the rest of the album in terms of enthusiasm. 

The lyrics are also well-written. Themes that the text dwells on include cheating and deception (Saloon), individuality (Cover Girl), and love (Goodbye, So Long My Love), and they have some very intriguing stories to tell. They're all somewhat tied together in their sort of upbeat tone, which does sort of work it's way into the album's more emotional moments.

"Saloon" is a very smart and investing album. It's a nice specimen of 'controlled chaos' with powerful musicianship and interesting song-writing, and there is a lot to like about it. Although the first half is a little stronger than the second, the album is overall very nicely done. Anyone looking for upbeat and invigorating music in general will really want to give this record a listen. To quote Roger Ebert about The Great Mouse Detective: "It's a lot of fun."

Score: 8.5/10 (Great+)