All Poets and Heroes – Cruel – Review

All Poets and HeroesAn indie rock quintet from Syracuse, NY, All Poets And Heroes channels all the feelings with its warm blend of acoustic and electronic timbres. Formed in 2015, the group features singer-guitarist Rob McCall, guitarist-backing vocalist Corey Jordan, guitarist-keyboardist Zack Fitzgerald, drummer Rob Zaccaria, and bassist Brian Modafferi. All Poets And Heroes released its debut EP in 2017, and is currently celebrating the May 14 release of its new single, “Cruel.”

All Poets and Heroes – Cruel

“Cruel” kicks into a steady and slow drum beat with the deep, bellowing crash of the cymbal — an arrangement that’s clean and sparse yet perfectly intentional. The bass and guitar chime in soon after, the guitar having a twang-y, almost twelve string sounding shimmer to it while the bass locks down the lower part of the arrangement with a grounding mantra of notes that revolves round and around, giving structure and foundation to the song. There’s a very present focus in the production of the recording as if the band were playing in the same room. Instruments set the mood underneath the lyrics, building as they develop with glistening whispers of piano, electric guitar, and shuttering backing harmonies ringing out in the background. A combination of natural and electronic drums, the band builds upon the natural drums until a little more than halfway, a cavernously expansive bass drops down to elevate the song up into the stratosphere. A crisp, snare-like clap accompanies the vocals as the lyrics poetically reveal:

“The crimes you accuse me of

Are heinous and cruel

And you’re the judge the jury and the executioner too.”

There’s a bridge featuring “oohs” that flip up into the vocalist’s higher register, similar to a yodel but with more spiritual sacredness and electronic delay effects. Suddenly everything drops out except a series of electronic textures and shockwaves that ripple through your ears, panning back and forth from left to right like a short circuit breaking its final crosswire, leaving only the hand claps, bass, and natural drums. The low creaking sound of floorboards under the mix adds to the melancholy of the piece while backing vocals hang in the sky like shimmering diamonds along with textures of guitar arpeggios and delayed electronic effects.

The desperate delivery of the vocals in “Cruel” embodies what it would feel like to be wrongly accused of a crime so serious the consequences could ruin your life. Its harmonic and emotional depth feeds into your soul until you start to feel the guilt too. All Poets And Heroes frames an idea around a story in its new single, “Cruel,” and transforms that idea into a living, breathing entity that reaches out and reminds us: everything is not always what it seems and it’s easy to get caught on the wrong side of a situation.

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