With cinematic guitar riffs, brooding leads, and addictive vocal lines from the ever-outstanding Amster-Iversen duo, the foursome conjures a mature, polished, and intensely passionate craft, urgent but not at all rushed. Hints of early AmRep get mixed in with the larger sounds of ‘90s alt heroes Failure and Quicksand. Combine that with the thunderous heaviness of Mastodon, the hook-laden post-hardcore-meets-powerpop appeal of Cave In or Torche and you’ll get “In The Dark”, by Denver post-hardcore / rock goldsmiths ABRAMS.
Today, to celebrate its recent release on Small Stone Records, we’re pleased to host Abrams frontman Zach Amster, who shared his interesting piece about his Top 5 Influential Records. You can check it out in its full glory below.
Abrams went from a sludgy post-hardcore/math rock band to the bigger, more focused and hook-driven heavy rock band they have become throughout their last two records “Modern Ways” and “In The Dark, and this top list is a good indication of how it all started for Zach as a music lover and songwriter, and how these albums have influenced his music across their nearly 10-year career span.
Initially seeking to fuse melodic hooks with dissonance, ABRAMS began in 2013 in Denver, Colorado, with guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster and bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen. Later joined by drummer Ryan DeWitt, ABRAMS has released an EP and three studio albums, all to critical acclaim. With each release, the listener can hear the band evolving and maturing to what it has become today. A band dedicated to compelling songwriting, and energetic live performances, ABRAMS ups the ante with the moody, heavy, psychedelic rock venture of their In The Dark.
Adding Patrick Alberts (Call Of The Void) to the lineup, In The Dark serves as their first release as a four-piece, following behind 2020’s Modern Ways. With the pandemic canceling all touring plans for Modern Ways, ABRAMS immediately got to work demoing more than twenty-five plus songs for their next release. Given that the world was in lockdown, Amster took a deep dive to learn the ins and outs of home recording to refine song structure, with a hyperfocus on vocal hooks. There was a goal set to have as complete and polished songs as possible prior to entering the studio in the summer of 2021 with producer, engineer, and collaborator Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cattle Decapitation) at Flatline Audio who was the last piece in shaping the final soundscape.
The new collection is a fine-tuned, forty-five-minute sonic journey detailing the angers, fears, frustrations, and joys inherent in living in a world gone mad.
ABRAMS is: Zachary Amster – guitar, vocals, Taylor Iversen – bass, vocals, Ryan DeWitt – drums, Patrick Alberts – guitar
Top 5 Influential Records, by Zach Amster from ABRAMS (guitarist, vocalist)
The Mark Lanegan Band “Bubblegum”
I first got into Lanegan from listening to the Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age. The immediate catchiness of tracks like “Nearly Lost You” and “In The Fade” are some of my favorite tracks of all time. “Whiskey For The Holy Ghost” and “Field Songs” are classics to me as well. On the surface, Bubblegum was not as accessible as his other collaborations/releases. The Lo Fi minimalistic recording approach, drug ridden lyrics, and harsh baritone vocals make this a very strange and uncomfortable listen. Within the dissonance and fucked up lyrics, there is comforting beauty. My most cherished records are the ones that take time to appreciate. This is my favorite album of all time.
The Mars Volta “Deloused In The Comatorium”
I was a Freshman in High School when this came out. Similar to Bubblegum, this was a grower and not a shower for me. The only track I liked the first 10 spins or so was “Cicatriz”. With it’s Neo-Zeppelin psyched out vibe, it’s by far the catchiest and most accessible song on the record. Once I got it, I had a new favorite song every month. Cedric Bixler’s vocals are as perfect as you can be on record, AND this is the greatest drumming record of my generation.
Fugazi “13 Songs”
I love Rites Of Spring and Minor Threat. Fugazi sounds like if these two bands had a baby. And, they did. This record is a collection of their first 2 EP’s and coming out in 1989, was far ahead of its time. Like all of their records, Fugazi’s recordings are a testament to how good their songs are. There is absolutely no need for tons of overdubs, layering, and high end production. The songs speak for themselves. The dueling vocals, continuous thumping of the Lally/Canty rhythm section, and punk as fuck ethos was just so cool to me. Promises are shit.
QOTSA “Songs for the Deaf”
Comedian/podcaster Dean Delray summed it up best… the lineup for the Songs for the Deaf era was the last dangerous rock and roll band. They were the most badass live band with this line up. Homme, Oliveri, Lanegan, Van Leeuwen, and Grohl. The songs were pretty damn good too. Enough said.
Planes Mistaken For Stars “Mercy”
I was late to the game with Planes Mistaken for Stars. My buddy showed me the lead off track “One Fucked Poney” around 2014 and I was instantly hooked. The scratchy guitars, over pounding drums. The signature sound of Gared’s whiskey, throated vocals are the focal point. Mostly classified in the emo/hardcore genre, they had hints of noise, rock, and metal. A very, emotional and heavy record.