CD Review – Restive Nation – Restive Nation

It is good to come across band’s who are prepared to not do what other bands do just because that’s their genre. It is what is expected. To fight against being pigeon-holed you have to take chances, put yourself out on a limb a little bit. Think back to what many consider to be the golden age of prog, the early 1970s. The bands we all grew up with took chances and forged their own ways. If it didn’t work out, they dusted themselves off and started again. Robert Fripp seemed to be perpetually rebooting King Crimson until it felt right and worked, well at least for a little while. Yes introduced new ideas sometimes by introducing new members or approaches to take them just that little bit further along the road to what they envisioned. Pink Floyd seemed driven and determined not to let the outside world interfere. That was the impression that these bands gave, and the one thing that those approaches all have is the determination to do things differently, and if that didn’t work out, then do it differently again. For some of those bands and their contemporaries a Samuel Beckett quote seems quite apt. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Only they don’t always fail.

Restive Nation is a music collective from Dublin based around a basis of four musicians who invite vocalists to come and make music with them. This self-titled album is the band’s debut one. The band’s music is genre hopping – an array of alternative rock, electronica, progressive rock, heavy metal, industrial, trip hop, punk, and much else in between and beyond. It is lively sound, full of energy and momentum.

It is a brave move not having a permanent singer, but bringing in vocalists with varied styles and capabilities allows the songs to have different flavours. It lets them breathe. Sometimes they are a little growly, other times little more than spoken words telling tales. Some of it is very clean cut, some of it quite left-field. All three vocalists may appear on one song as they do on Revolt/Reanimate. It tells the cheerful tale of being fed up with modern life, and starting to be more than exasperated with it. It deals with those frustrations. Many of the songs deal with startlingly serious issues, often just as contemplations, or maybe asking whether the listener has thought about a certain issue.  There’s no right or wrong reply, just like a mate pointing something out to you. Much like the Blues where you can ask questions or make statements that seem deadly serious without being maudlin or depressing, where you can bring a serious subject like suicide to the fore. Within the contexts of the songs, it works.

There is a good flow to the release, and although it is not a concept album as such it does have that feel. The opening track Insufficient Information is an introductory sound collage in effect which flows into the next track, Revolt/Reanimate, until that song’s industrial heart kicks in. Throughout the album that ebb and flow of energy is maintained, although not by exactly the same device. There is a good strut and swagger on display, and a remarkable confidence in a band releasing its debut album. There is a fairly incessant driving nature to the songs. The musicians in the band are all very good, but Chris Cahill’s production and sound design brings a lot to the table too maintaining the music’s energy and momentum.

To get the best out of this album, you’re going to need to be open minded. Approaching it with too many expectations will not get you far at all. But if you are prepared to go with the flow a little bit then there is much to admire and enjoy here. The genre hopping is controlled and not too drastic, the changes are not stark and dramatic, but rather the varied styles are woven into the fabric of each of the songs rather than being too contrived. Immerse yourself in Restive Nation’s sound world, and you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Insufficient Information

Revolt/Reanimate

T.O.L

Bedtime Stories

Counterfeit

Red Mist

The Marionettist

Dyatlov Pass

White Ural

Act III

Chris Cahill – production & sound design, guitar, vocals.

Ciaran Timmy Lynch – bass.

Ben Thonett – synth

Cion O’Callaghan – drums

Tony Carberry – vocals

Neal Pawney Bond – vocals

John Atmahead – vocals

Release date: 25th February, 2022

Label: Independent

Formats: digital, vinyl

https://restivenation.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/restivenation/

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