Being objective can be a real bitch. This is especially true when criticizing music. There are quite a few albums and bands out there that I feel I “should” like, but for whatever reason, a certain aspect of the music prevents me from doing so. For example, I fucking hate The Eagles. Every time I hear “Hotel California” I feel like I am going to have an aneurysm. I think it is the most bland, overplayed piece of classic rock fluff, and there is nothing anybody can do to convince me otherwise. Objectively they are great musicians, I won’t deny that. Just make sure to keep that old-fart bullshit away from me. This is not to say that Ukraine’s own Septa have spurred an equal amount of wrath. No, their EP Ropes is nowhere as bad as anything The Eagles produced. There is ultimately a sense of importance to what Septa does, but sadly I find myself unable to completely enjoy it.
The biggest problem is their lyrics. If you like metaphors, clever turns of phrases, and bold imagery, you will not find any of those things here. The words seem tossed off in a last-ditch attempt at sounding profound, kind of like at the last minute the band decided that maybe these songs should be about something. I’m sorry, but it’s a little hard for me to get past lines as clunky as “Remember tomorrow/we’re gonna get killed tonight.” To be fair, I should have seen it coming with a song title like “Threat Level Midnight.” Yes, fans of The Office, these guys named one of their songs after Michael Scott’s cring-inducing screenplay of the exact same name. If this was intentional (although I doubt it,) kudos to them for the joke. This kind of writing really would fit right in with the amateurism of that fictional action flick.
You are probably thinking, “If you hated the lyrics so much, why give this a 6/10 rating?” Well, Ropes is still somewhat listenable due to its sheer energy, tight musicianship, and the smooth fusion of many different influences. “Threat Level Midnight” has no right to be enjoyable based on its words, but the breakneck speed of the song and the rage-filled delivery of vocalist Eugene Tymchyk almost make you forget all of that. The diversity within each track help things along too. “Botchla” starts with an angst-ridden, alt-rock intro, and boasts a soaring prog-rock middle section, turning everything up to eleven with violently screamed verses that sound exactly like what goes off in my brain when “Hotel California” is played. It is easily the most accomplished song here. “Ropes (stonefromthesky remix)” is seemingly inconsequential, but I have to say that I might have enjoyed it the most. For one, it is an instrumental song, so the band’s strengths are given the spotlight. Secondly the atmosphere is pretty incredible. It sounds like something out of Blade. It hints at a more industrial metal direction for the band that I would be more than excited for.
In the end, this EP is just a promotional tool for the band’s third official album, and with that in mind, it does succeed. I am really curious to see if they will follow a more experimental route in future, or try their hand at more straightforward song-writing. If they do go with the latter, I really hope to God that they have written better lyrics. No band should ever have to be compared to The Eagles, but if I have to endure such lines as, “Question amends/whisper commands/yea” again, I will have no problem doing so.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson