Album Review: Bayside – “Cult”

The flack for Bayside is unwarranted and unjustified. They’ve always been great musicians with something more than a novelty given the voice and storytelling ability of Anthony Ranieri, who skews personal tragedies with rumblings on the music scene, to great effect. Their fervent ambition and passion kicked me into gear since Sirens and Condolences and in assessing their past merits, the tunnel vision of ignorant fans still doesn’t simmer. At all. They’ve always been consistently making good music and as jaded as fans get, ready to throw their angst-pronged attacks at every turn and corner, it’s time to stop and take note – Cult is the fucking juggernaut of Bayside albums.

It’s melodic, punk and heavy-guitar rock, mashed up to a marvelous extent. It isn’t pretentious and this uniformity bodes well for music done with a non-complex beat. Seriously…it’s as if the band charged up with middle-fingers to haters in such a sweet, simple and powerful batch of songs. It leaves an indelible impression and the intent of the hard-rock tune in “Big Cheese” sets these wheels in motion. It’s a la Balance and Composure with drifting guitars and a loud ambiance. Ranieri’s vocals are clean, slick and so perfect to accentuate the strong instrumentation throughout. He’s never sounded better.

The rampant solos chalk up so much more technicality to the record and when spots of aggression pop up, it’s sublime to say the least. “You’re No Match” exemplifies this with epic riffing and hooks. The same applies for “Transitive Property” which is emotionally open and apparent as a plead for a loved one to stay. Remarkable and consistently charismatic – all wrapped in a grunge blanket as they pay homage to so many emo-influences along the way.

“Objectivist On Fire” offers more of a crooning Ranieri but not dispelling massive hooks, bombastic breakdowns and a spin off 90s alternative that recall their Victory days. Pop-punk fans can chart their way to “Something’s Wrong” and “The Whitest Lie” as they dial back the heaviness for good measure. The flow of all the tunes is far from erratic which hindered them on records of old but here, the arrangement is spot on. Guitarist Jack O’Shea and drummer Chris Guglielmo really get to flex their muscles on Cult, incorporating the most impressive riffs and fills to improve on the plodding, modern rock-tinged songs of ghosts past. There are above-average choruses that make such a good impression and overall, Cult is another solid addition to Bayside’s diverse catalogue. They’re worth talking about and no matter what you think or thought you knew, chalk this up in the win column because their arsenal just got a bigger piece of artillery.

4/5 Stars

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