Reason Define, the hard-rock quintet from Charlotte, NC, is gearing up for their sophomore album release this Friday. The album is currently available for a full stream on PureGrainAudio. The group has been playing together for a handful of years, and after a full rebrand before their first release, have been garnering a following and will be embarking on a month-long series of shows around the southeast to celebrate the release. You can view the dates below.
Track-by-Track review of their upcoming album, In Memory:
1. In Memory
The album begins with some vocal track played backwards and a reading of a short passage by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, with a glimmering audio quality that really showcases that the band has stepped their game up since their last release. The band states that Kubler-Ross’s studies of the five stages of grief in her book “On Death and Dying” became the core of the theme and tempo of the album.
Seamlessly transitioning into Waves, the album starts with a haunting and chilling ambient vocalization harmony from the incredibly talented lead singer, Paolina, WAVES is an excellent introduction to the album. It showcases the true power of this once-small band. Please make this into a music video.
3. Forgiveness Again
If you were a big fan of bands like Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin back in the early 2000s, this track will resonate with you. With a lot of booming chord chugging and tons of ambient, reverb leads, this song sounds exactly like something I’d hear on 95x on the top 5 songs of the week. Excited to hear this one live.
Hearing the beginning of this track sounded like I was going to know exactly how the progression was going to go, but the songwriting choices were honestly refreshingly different from the regular formula. My brain would immediately think I knew how a riff was going to go, and then suddenly it would do something different. Well-placed group chants, catchy riffs that are just slightly deviant from the norm make this track just spicy enough to really distinguish it from the rest of the album and give it a really unique spin on hard rock.
This track has a lot of really interesting elements in a still-accessible hard rock track. It’s heavy throughout the entire track, but still insanely melodic. Listening to the beginning of the track made me feel like it needed something, but the breakdown in the song shows that there can still be some seriously powerful spin kicks to be done to this song. You can tell the Charlotte scene is dominated by hardcore and metalcore bands, and even though I wouldn’t categorize Reason Define in the same genre of bands of other locals like Never I and Reflect Refine, it’s clear there’s just a little bit of metalcore influence on this track.
Within 5 seconds, I knew this would be my favorite track on the album. It’s got that pop-punk/hard-rock vibe of the early 2000s of bands that reminds me of that sound that got lost when Drive-Thru records disappeared.
I think this track takes the cake for my favorite. It’s insanely catchy, crowd-surfy hard-rock that makes me smell the scent of cigarettes, fair food, and wish I had a 25 oz Bud Light in my hand. Not sure why it reminds me of the fair. Maybe I just want some funnel cake?
Eat some funnel cake to Inferno. It’s a bop.
7. The Hunter / The Hunted
Kickin’ it to a more punk-style with the old-school countdown right in the beginning, The Hunter / The Hunted has a lot of really cool guitar work that make it stand out from the rest of the album. It almost feels like the song goes a little bit too long – I can’t exactly put my finger on it. But the song overall is sturdy, still a great sing-along, and the powerful intro and outro make it one of the more fun tracks on the album.
The transition from TH/TH to this is… jarring. This one is the sad and sappy track of the record. The piano parts start off fairly simple, but it’s not a bad thing when you have a track like this. The instrumental and flowing emotion of the song blend perfectly into an absolutely breath-taking performance by Paolina and Sydney (the drummer, who plays piano on the track). The lyrics are not overdone and cliche, and have some witty metaphors combined with stunning and soaring vocals. I almost would have loved to see this pull one of those “Your Guardian Angel” kind of pieces – where after the bridge there’s just a huge full band KABLAM, but I feel like it could have also detracted from the intimacy and serene quality of the song.
9. Impossible Victories
This track continues to drive home that the Reason Define girls are really writing songs that are refreshing approach to styles of songs that can be easily tainted by aiming for radio perfection. It’s just familiar enough that you immediately don’t need to try to process what just happened, but not so familiar that I feel like I’ve heard the song before.
10. Pointing Fingers
I think this song is about recovering after an abusive, or at least manipulative, relationship – and the instrumentation follows vibe. The mildly dischordant lead/chord progression in the introduction to the verse leads right into an easy-to-yell-at-passing-cars chorus that further showcases that this band deserves to progress outside of the local scene and into regular rotation on Sirius and opening for some festivals.
11. All I’ve Got
A dramatic change in pace from the end of Pointing Fingers leaves this track’s introduction feeling a little out of place until the full band starts up, driving a groovy little syncopated that is sure to make the most unshakeable butts give a little bee-bop back and forth. After talking with the band and trying to figure out why there’s this weird track that plays at the end of this track, I found out that it and the intro are part of a song that Caitlin’s, their bassist, dad wrote and recorded some time before he passed away a few years ago.
Overall Review: 8.5/10
Whether my personal connection to the band affects my judgement or not is left to be assessed. Seeing the growth between their first release and this is insane. The album possesses so many qualities that are so quickly washed out of bands in the genre. There aren’t a lot of smaller hard-rock bands that can create something that sounds so different from anything else on the market. There’s nothing quite like this one.