Kicking off with a string prelude, this Kent band's debut is eclectic, alternating between System of a Down-inspired metal ("Para Os Obencados"), middle-eastern chants ("4:05 am"), straight-ahead jazz ("Flowers and Stones") and pretentious prog-rock ("Karma Mosaic"). There's even the classical-sounding, four-movement "Guitar Suite." The band sounds most comfortable on lurching, complex metal tunes like "With a Saint's Determination," "Ice Sculptures" and "Make Me a Liar." The album is disjointed, but the band definitely lives up to its self-billing as "art-school rock," even in its ornate cover art. — Jeff Niesel
Never Escape, the debut feature-length movie by local writer/producer/director Jon Mancinetti, was filmed around Cleveland and features a local cast, as well as an original score by Hoya Toya's Keith Richner. Richner's music is an integral part of the film; its epic post-rock sound ties in perfectly with Mancinetti's dark, dystopian vision. While the film is well done, at times Richner's score does an even better job of tapping into the emotional unercurrents than the actors do. The music builds from background noise of tape loops and quiet distortion into an explosion of intense melodies, crashing drums and chilling pedal-steel guitar. Fans of Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor! should like this.
— Eddie Fleisher