“We can break the shackles of belief … we wouldn’t have to feel like we’ve been chained to these ideals.” – Conspire
Conspire is a post-hardcore band that sprung from the soil of my own backyard, Tampa, Florida. The five-piece outfit signed with InVogue Records over the summer and release their first EP, The Scenic Route tomorrow. In an act of sheer serendipity, I gave it a listen last night. In this highly charged post-election climate, Conspire cuts through the anger and confusion to illuminate common ground for a divided nation.
Each song on The Scenic Route has a different tone, incorporating elements of metal, punk, and space rock. One distinctive sound unites, and one overriding message permeates: we are flawed, but humanity is good. We’re making horrible mistakes, but we’re redeemable if we do the hard work. Open up to possibilities, look inside yourself, clear out the hate. Rinse and repeat.
“1971,” is the first track and the first release of The Scenic Route. The haunting intro lays the foundation for a mix of clean and unclean vocals, and hard-hitting spoken word. It’s rhythm-heavy auditory CPR pounds your heart toward self-awareness. The message of internal housecleaning is clear. Says lead singer Parker Armstrong, “1971 is about learning lessons from humanity’s low points. Different forms of oppression seem to stay alive cross-generationally. When and where one is born never justifies carrying on hate for the sake of tradition. We all have potential to make a positive impact in the history books of tomorrow. This song isn’t so much a cry for political correctness, but more a pursuit of personal convictions in sorting out the genuine from ghosts of our past.”
Two songs feature guest vocalists, though not out of necessity, as Armstrong handles all forms of delivery flawlessly. Garrett Russell of Silent Planet makes an appearance on “Rescind.” These two minds occupying the same space is incendiary. Together they implore us to break from the cultural ideology of group think.
Cuz who are you really fighting if you can’t even explain who they are to begin with, or find comfort in that so many others feel like you, think like you and talk like you, and reward you for it. I wonder if you’ve been had. You’ve been tricked. I wonder if I’ve been too?
Ricky Armellino of This or the Apocalypse, lends vocals to “Row.” Parker’s Facebook states he wrote “Row” in response to “the division that election season brings about.” This is the impact of spoken word and the prophets that deliver them: with remarkable insight and a desire for change, they react to the world around them. If you listen, you learn.
We’re going nowhere and there’s a storm, It’s bearing down to where we are. I need you to row. I need you to row. I need you to row.
And if redemptive violence is a deadly sin, I couldn’t even imagine what God thinks of preemptive violence. And it’s wrong to broadly classify others as enemies. No rationalization solves this, and clinging to hatred only clouds it further.
A peaceful musical interlude makes up the fifth track, “By The Sword,” giving a moment’s pause before the onslaught of ideas resume. The hypnotic beat settles you while the ethereal guitar and synth work lifts you. “Congruency” then comes on strong, emphasizing two inseparable commands: “Listen. Forgive.” “Sustain” is the song I want to experience live. I want to be present when Parker says, “I’m here” so I can witness every adoring fan twenty rows back, reaching out and affirming their “here-ness.”
The final track, “Enola,” is another instrumental. I’m reminded of a tough pilates class I took years ago. We always ended with guided mediation. It helped the work settle in, helped our souls accept our strength. This is “Enola,” a restorative necessity allowing Conspire’s words to settle in so we can, recharged, continue to build strength within ourselves to affect change in the world.
Some music isn’t for everyone. Conspire’s A Scenic Route is. Different points of view can point you in a different direction. It’s not something we should be afraid of. Opening yourself up to being wrong opens you up to something bigger than yourself. Listen to A Scenic Route over and over. Let every word sink in. These are Conspire’s thoughts, our lessons, and a communion we desperately need right now.