Since I started writing reviews for public reading 16 years ago, my aim has primarily been to help spread the word about music I believe is worthwhile.
While I've been able to hear hundreds of bands over the years, a new project will rarely come together and remind me of when I first found interest in heavy music.
However, this is exactly what Tension Span did on The Future Died Yesterday.
With propulsive grooves harkening back to some of the best music from the '70s and '80s without sounding dated, this is easily one of my favorite records of 2022.
When I think about my early interest in the '90s punk scene, particularly in northern California, it also makes sense why Tension Span brings me back to my musical beginnings. Each member of Tension Span played a part in making that scene as memorable as it is to this day, and it's great to hear a new distillation of both their collective influences and the records they have all been part of over the years.
Of the 13 songs on the record, three songs are either primarily instrumental or the primary vocal is audio sourced from either news footage or another recorded media format. These songs stand out as distinct to me because it reminds me how sequencing on a record can be similar to architecture and the importance of a clear train of thought for listeners to follow and engage with as they listen.
Active listening is a vital part of what makes punk and its various connected sub-genres more than just a practice in maximum volume.
The vocals by both Noah Landis and Matt Parrillo remind me why I've always set time aside to read the lyrics. The intensity and visceral nature of the lyrics are appropriately startling.
One example I'll share is from the song, "Human Scrapyard": "Lost our grip, starting to slip, from being ground into the ground into the ground." By utilizing repetition of both sounds and words, we are reminded of the rhythmic patterns that can happen in a speech to emphasize meanings. These lyrics also remind me of how my interest in poetry as well as sociological literature has been formed and changed over the years.
It might be predictable, but I'm also reminded of a quote by George Orwell from the book 1984 that has always stuck with me. “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”
I hesitate to use my record review as a vehicle for my thoughts on the current state of our world, but I will gladly say I think The Future Died Yesterday acts as a practical and honest catharsis when thinking about how things have been and what may be coming next. It can often be hard to have a vision for the future; I've had a hard time feeling capable of having a vision for a week from now let alone future years.
It's in those moments of mental anguish and disillusionment, I'm especially grateful for bands like Tension Span. Set for release on vinyl and digital format on September 30th through Neurot Recordings, I'm going to end the review with one more quote from Tension Span's lyrics of the song "The Future Died Yesterday":
"Defined by our divisiveness, dead wrong in our righteousness. The future died yesterday, ‘cause all our dreams are gone. Now there’s not much left to say, and no point to this song."
Tagged: tension span