01. This Is Our Voice 02. All Said And Done 03. Read Your Mind 04. What We've Become 05. Dissolve 06. You Faded 07. This Revolution 08. Azure 09. Remedy Unknown 10. Against The Tide 11. Washed Out 12. Grant's Stand2002 Equal Vision Records
The debut full-length from San Francisco's Time in Malta seems to have caught many in the hardcore community by surprise. Following their recent split with fellow SF natives Breathe In, "A Second Engine" covers every musical base without coming off as indecisive or awkward. It is refreshing and innovative, without alienating any listeners who might not be immediately familiar with its influences. Seamlessly jumping between melodies that could make any indie rocker shake his shaggy, dyed-black hair and breakdowns that could make the sweatiest bandanna-faced kid start throwing spin kicks, this Bay Area four-piece (the singer recently turned over his bass-playing duties to concentrate on vocals) has delivered a powerful blow to the barrier between musical genres. The disc immediately pulls you in with the opening guitar riff to "This Is Our Voice," which lyrically assaults the powers that be and big business. While the band is possibly at their musical strongest, the song's lyrics feel a little awkward. From there, however, the band moves into what seems to be more comfortable territory and the remainder of the album deals largely with personal matters. The vocals on this disc travel everywhere from near whispering, to harsh screaming, and back again, often in the course of a single line. "Read Your Mind" and "What We've Become" are powerfully melodic, while "Dissolve" leans towards the chaotic. The disc includes an excellent cover of "You Faded" by obscure indie rock pioneers Chavez. (As if a declaration of the band's affinity for the genre was really necessary by this point in the album) Another seeming nod to their influences, the intro to "This Revolution" immediately recalls older Snapcase, but is that such a bad thing While the second half of the disc doesn't really pack the same power as the first, it does have the anthem-to-be "Against The Tide," the only tribute to non-violent resistance that would make Gandhi and Fugazi proud at the same time. The disc's final track, "Grant's Stand," is also the most surprising; a jazzy, piano laden stroll that prominently features a female vocalist. While this may at seem formulaic, Time In Malta has chosen Kate Lamont, whose voice has more soul than a gospel choir. Her vocals really help the lyrics shine through and help Time In Malta dodge the sugary-sweet bullet that has struck so often on many recent releases. The production of this record definitely fits the band's sound better than on previous releases, letting the guitar do the majority of the work, while the drums and bass carry the often complex tempos. Time In Malta has successfully avoided the temptations of excess instrumentation as well, which helps retain the sense of urgency that the lyrics convey. My only real complaint about this disc is that while the band's sound and vibe are definitely original, the songs themselves don't offer up tremendous variety. I found myself repeatedly checking which track I was on because the disc blends together at times. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, making "A Second Engine" cohesive but ultimately predictable. Bottom Line: Exploring new ground, musically and emotionally, without falling back on clichés has been difficult for a lot of bands, but Time In Malta has the ability to rock, roll and let their human side show through and that's what really makes this album great. A promising album from a band poised to conquer both hardcore and indie rock.