Idaho’s prized metal recently signed with Solid State RecordsIdaho isn’t known for much—potatoes, Boise State Football, being the birthplace of both Aaron Paul and Sarah Palin, and a line in that Frank Ocean song.
Metal tunes are not close to that list.
Insert: The Ongoing Concept, from small-town Rathdrum, Idaho—14 miles outside of Coeur d’Alene.
Comprised of members who have recently graduated high school (See track, “Class of Twenty-Ten”), or are still battling the hallway wars of adolescence, TOC creates a sound beyond its age.
For relative newcomers on the metal scene, TOC crafts each lick and drum hit with the precision of seasoned veterans—akin to Maylene and the Sons of Disaster and Every Time I Die.
Naturally, the men of The Ongoing Concept are creating a mold for their own take on a Southwest Metal theme, with their debut full-length release, Saloon (released August 20), which includes the likes of a poker game gone wrong, rag-timey piano parts, and banjo!
Success of much of the clever thematic elements can be attributed to the connection three-fourths of TOC shares—brothers, Dawson (guitars, vocals), Kyle (lead vocals, keys), and Parker Scholz (drums) have been creating together for many years leading up to this release. Partnered with bassist, TJ Nichols, the group has developed into leaders of the shift in metal’s next generation.
Saloon is also the group’s debut release on its new home with Solid State Records—which, for years, has been a homestay for dominant metal bands such as August Burns Red, Underoath (now-defunt), Emery, Demon Hunter, and Oh, Sleeper (now Independent).
The album begins with an introduction to a wild west setting at a poker game in which things go awry, prompting the band to step in and lay down the law with the dazzling title track. Listeners are immediately immersed in a world of organized chaos in the form of spastic riffs, rag-timey piano, and blasting drums.
Vocalist and middle Scholz brother, Kyle, 20, asserts his vocal dominance like a fresh Greg Puciato throughout this opening track and perpetuates his authority throughout Saloon.
“Cover Girl” was the first Saloon track to receive a music video—equipped with the group crashing an elementary school classroom and brandishing its own definition of what it means to be original. The elder Scholz brother, Dawson, 21, shines on backing vocals and not only shows off his dexterity on guitar, but also on banjo.
As the album progresses, the band shows its versatility in demonstrating their multifaceted musical influences—tracks begin to mold classical piano, acoustic guitar, and harmonies in defiance of the typical exasperated screams and yells.
Dawson’s vocal range is further explored on “Little Situation,” where he sounds at ease in hyper-poppy harmonies that amalgamate into the even more comfortable attacking pace of The Ongoing Concept’s standard.
The band’s resourcefulness is once again featured through “Sidelines,” where it proves its dedication to an original sound in order to stand out from other metal bands on the scene today. As the piano heavy track plays on, the listener is subjected to a series of allegorical miscommunications—“You think you know me, but haven’t seen nothing yet”—beyond the double-negative nature of the lyrics, the sentiment of the situation is met with a crescendoing upheaval of orchestral elegance.
“Failures & Fakes” shows the band at its most full-bodied and well-defined sound. While maintaining its rightful place on Saloon, the song takes on a life of its own and creates an atmosphere of desperation and eagerness to be something more. Nichols brings this track to life even further with his controlling bass that drives the track to new heights.
Saloon ends with two highly juxtaposed pieces, “Class of Twenty-Ten,” and “Goodbye, So Long My Love.”
“Goodbye, So Long My Love” brings Saloon to a somber close, but not before shedding some last bits of metal gold. The track is a re-envisioning of a track from the group’s first EP, What is my Destiny¸ which features wonderful complimentary female vocals by Shelby Velasquez that again prove the band was willing to do anything their heart desired on this debut release.
Saloon is a debut album to be reckoned with. It showcases the strengths in the Pacific Northwest metal scene, as well as provides hope for this new generation of young metal bands making a name for themselves with dynamic and influential noises.
The Ongoing Concept is slated to play a number of shows on the west coast in the upcoming months, so make sure to follow them on Twitter (@OngoingConcept) and like them on Facebook!