In 1998, the Appleseed Cast released The End of the Ring Wars. It was a shockingly mature work for a debut, offering a stunning mix of pop punk hooks, post rock compositions, and hardcore energy.
But what's perhaps more impressive is that the group has offered the same exciting cocktail for the last twenty-one years—especially in a scene filled with bands releasing a single, legendary album before disbanding. And yeah, I'm looking at you, American Football. With so many iconic, second-wave emo groups reforming these days (Including AmFoo), the fact that Appleseed Cast has been active the entire time is stunning.
Especially when you realize that they've done so with an unparalleled consistency. Across their catalog, there are no lulls, no dips, no records that their fanbase would rather just ignore. In fact, if you get five Appleseed Cast fans together and ask for their favorite record, you might get five different answers, each with respectable arguments for their choice.
I say all of this to drive home an important statement.
The Fleeting Light of Impermanence might be their best ever.
Throughout their career, The Appleseed Cast has warped sound and mood with an ineffable grace. But Fleeting Light is the most awe-inspiring roller coaster they've constructed yet.
Despite having a distinct "Important Record" feel to it, it doesn't feel like they're trying that hard. The record opens with a jazz-tinged pair of tracks that feel light almost to the point of silliness. Not a bad silliness, mind you, but you get the sense that the Appleseed Cast isn't taking themselves very seriously.
That is until "Petition" is interrupted by a dark synth pad that heralds "Time The Destroyer." The track builds slowly, layers of electronics stacking and swelling until the band joins in a morose epic to entropy. "Collision" continues with "Time"'s sonic palette, but reappropriates the pads and blips into a major-key affirmation that is reminiscent of the more joyful moments on Mogwai's Rave Tapes. Halfway through the track, the synths are joined by cascading guitar lines and a jubilant drum explosion. The joyful reprieve is brief, as "The Journey" finds dark saw waves ripping through a forboding arpeggio. A few lines sound like they would fit right into Daft Punk's soundtrack for Tron: Legacy (please note: I mean that as the very highest praise).
And of course, throughout the record are all of the hallmarks of a great Appleseed Cast record: chiming guitar lines, rallying cries as vocal hooks, intricately composed instrumental passages, kinetic drum parts, you name it. This record stands eye-to-eye to the most staggering moments in the group's catalog and stares them down, unflinching.
The Fleeting Light of Impermanence is another in a long line of consistently epic emotional rock form one of the greatest names in the scene. And now, the conversation about their best record has a new contender.