Album review by Seraphim Dibble, photos provided by Broken Testimony
Judge Page and Bryce Chism founded Broken Testimony in 2016 when they were both 16. The four-piece alternative rock group has played a number of live shows, including opening for several larger bands in the genre such as Trapt. They have just released their full length album, Holding On to Nothing. The eleven-song album clocks in at forty-two minutes long.
It opens with an instrumental interlude, “We Never Learned From Our Mistakes”. The interlude consists of soft guitar, a thunderstorm, and a siren at the end. It closes with the sound of thunder, leading into the track “Control”. “Control” is a song very much in the vein of bands like Breaking Benjamin and Chevelle. The melodic vocals blend well with the heavier instruments, lending the song a feeling as if it walked out of the early 2000’s. Together with “One Day”, the first three songs on the album sound like a call-back to the alt-rock movement of that era. The sound is very measured and practiced, with well-placed harmonized vocals.
“Fade Away” changes this a bit by being considerably heavier, instrument-wise. The vocals are very consistent, and in places reminiscent of Seether. Broken Testimony has crafted a very reliably listenable album here. It will also be a huge hit amongst millenials who grew up listening to this type of music. Track five is another intermission track, “Instead We Hid From Them, Just Like Our Fears”. This one features a droning sound along with a lengthy monologue from Charles Manson. It remains to be seen if this has any relevance to the album, but it seems to mostly be Manson justifying his actions.
“Blessing”, the next track, starts up immediately with a wicked bass riff. Much like the previous songs, it plays out as an homage to many of the hard rock bands of the 2000’s. It is a bit heavier on the screams than the previous songs. “Medusa” similarly features an emphasis on heavy riffs and drums. It ends on a scream and heavy beat, leaving it open for another interlude. “We Smoke Them Away, Thinking They’ll Burn Off” is a bit softer than the last and features a lengthy monologue from Alan Watts, British philosopher. This one feels a bit more at home in the album than the previous. What is interesting, though, is the track also feels like it would be at home on a The Contortionist album.
It is appropriate, then, that “Unknown” opens a bit more softly than the previous albums. It comes as a surprise, as Broken Testimony has established quite a consistent sound to this point. Even when the electric guitars and heavier drums come in, “Unknown” manages to remain restrained and consistent in its softer tone. “Vitality” also opens up softly, but returns to the early ‘00’s hard rock sound of the rest of the album in seconds. It is a callback to Staind, providing quite a listenable last track before the album’s outro. “But They Just Stain Who We Are Inside” provides the album with a soft, ambient closing. The sounds of scuffling chairs, clinking glasses, and voices can be heard quietly in the background. Acoustic guitars and drums swell in the middle before fading out with the end of the album.
Broken Testimony has put together an album that has a stunning amount of finesse to it for such a new band. It sounds like an album from another decade, with throwbacks to Seether, Chevelle, Breaking Benjamin, Staind, and more. It is a pleasantly listenable rock album. The inclusion of Charles Manson’s monologue is discomforting, though. It’s hard to say why the decision to include that was made, but it is uncomfortable to listen to. Holding On To Nothing released on June 22nd, 2018! Get it today!