With their debut album released ** just under a week ago**, BELOW 7, the Tennessee based modern rock quintet has officially crashed into the spotlight with their first original project. Distributed through Pavement Entertainment who boasts over a half a decade of label and distribution experience, the Crashing Down LP is the former cover band’s first original full length release. 10 tracks in total, and it’s a statement to fans and other bands that they’re ready to gain ranks in the industry. They do back up the statement by coming out the gate nothing short of radio quality, but this is their first project together. With that being said, the best overviewing statement I can provide for the album is,
“It’s legit, but there’s room for growth”
This phrase is good for any band to hear, especially those new to the album releasing game. The reason “Why” is because by peaking out too early makes it a son of a bitch to keep reaching higher and higher. Genuine fans will tend to keep the bar set high which can be a huge strain on the creation process for future projects. But again, this is a solid sounding LP front to back and I’ll clearly explain my critiques of the album.
Let’s Dive In!
Newer bands tend to fall captive to displaying rhythmic and melodic awkwardness when musicians aren’t at least even from a “talent” standpoint. Luckily, after listening to BELOW 7’s, Crashing Down, for the first time through, it was obvious that the five members of this band have a great musical chemistry. Lead singer, Jarrod Evans cements the vocal production with a seasoned raspy tone whilst backing vocalist, Scott Moore adds capturing textures with his harmony performances. Sections of the album showcase their back and forth, call and answer performance styles which is fairly advanced to accomplish in the realms of vocal production. It can be tricky because of how well each performers tones and phrases have to bounce off of each other amidst calling and answering. This vocal production vastly anchored most songs into maintaining a catchy delivery, a necessity for marketable records.
Instrumentation-wise, BELOW 7’s debut LP sounds exactly as it should if not better than one would expect for a group’s first release. Drummer and percussionist, Eric Sheffield, made me want to buy the guy a whiskey shot for his spastically electric hi-hat and tom patterns. Sheffield morphed into breakdowns and groove changes like a chameleon in a most pit keeping all melodic elements together.
Lead guitarist, Todd Viers, held his own throughout the compilation and stuck out with the occasional transitional riffs between song phrases. Viers performed well overall and also showcased some tricky finger workings for ear candy. I’m hoping in future projects he becomes more passionately reckless and reaches for the sky on more of his lead runs with higher note progressions breaking through the stratosphere.
Production Score: 3.8/5
Into The Mix:
I’ve already said it but let me reiterate, Crashing Down is a radio quality album. That’s an impressive accomplishment for any band’s first studio release. Just to give you an idea of the listenability of the album, while reviewing the album in my home studio, my girlfriend, a few slushy margaritas deep, asked me in passing, “What station are you listening to?” To which I responded, “This is a debut album I’m reviewing for #IntoThePitWithAnnie. It’s a band out of Tennessee.” She followed my response up with, “Oh. They sound good. It sounds like it should be on the radio.”
THOSE WERE TEQUILA THOUGHTS FOLKS! This told me that a Cali girl, with a deep love for Chris Stapleton and Weeknd playlist [musically unrelated to BELOW 7] sincerely thought that I was listening to a hard rock radio station. Yes my friends, this does mean that this former cover band’s first album would be considered radio quality across the board. Elements mesh well together overall. Panning and stereo depth seems ideal for lead and rhythmic guitars. The feel of the bass alone provides so much sonic energy and allow you to have confidence in BELOW 7’s ability to deliver all around. I’m guessing bassist, Lance DeBord, had a little to do with this as well. Nevertheless, great job to the mixing engineer(s) on the project, Crashing Down is a worthy addition to your discography for sure.
Mix Score. 4.0/5
A Mastered Experience:
Having been on both ends of the mastering process, there’s one thing that I look for when critiquing a mastered record or project..
Can I listen to this project from top to bottom and it sound cohesive all the way through?
Since I’ve labeled, Crashing Down, a radio quality album, it only makes sense to say, Yes. Pavement Entertainment’s latest release is a collective of art it can be proud of. The fan experience of this album should be well received live on stage and in an intimate listening experience. The louder dynamics of the project are strong, heavy, and clear and in the soft emptiness left musically throughout the record an empty vacuum is created leaving you anxious for the next attack. Highs, mids, and lows all measure well on my studio system, an Alexa Echo, Galaxy headphones, and laptop speakers, sounding consistent on all listening platforms. Well done to the wizard behind the gears cranking this music to the level it is without distasteful distortion or the infamous added noise.
Master Score: 4.0/5
Congratulations to BELOW 7 for a successful release of their debut album. I’ll be on the lookout for future releases simply to hear their growth. The one thing I hope to hear through future projects is more of a gut wrenching, heartstring grabbing, emotional connection as a whole. It seemed as though most elements on the project were what I’d deem “safe yet satisfying”.
Pursing more emotionally evoking writing and performances would start ascending BELOW 7 into a bigger arena of classification with bands such as Godsmack, Metallica, and even Aerosmith. Every song has it’s own individual soul. How well that soul connects with raw and unfiltered emotions is what creates genuine fans and timeless music. BELOW 7 focusing deeper into their arrangement and performances with a bit more of emotional depth will bring a new life and meaning to the listeners as well as themselves. Let’s shoot for creating lasting, timeless music. The bands I listed above were driven by that purpose and have forever shaped rock culture by doing so. It’s never a bad thing to become an old rocker because your music sticks with the hearts of generations to come because that’s a real legacy.
Into The Pit Score: 3.9