Much like a NASA countdown to blast off, In The Whale’s latest offering starts with (just over) 10 seconds of anxiety-inducing uneasiness. With guitarist Nate Valdez playing high-pitched dissonant notes, Dopamine — the neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, handling both good and bad feelings — opens with a sonic transformation from potential to kinetic energy. Right at the 11-second mark, when drummer Eric Riley’s cymbal ride ignites into ferocious pounding of floor toms, Valdez drops the dissonance, kicks his tube screamer all the way up and maximizes the crunch out of his Fender amp as the record blasts off to the stratosphere.
“Deep End,” that explosive opening track is a heavy, hard and punching ripper, not unlike a lot of In The Whale’s material. Their infectious overdrive and “go for the throat” live performances often mask the real depth of some of their songs, and “Deep End” is fucking deep. The song carries with it a palpable feeling of frustration, and Valdez said that it’s also a message that can be carried over into multiple parts of life, to keep going against the odds, even when it’s terrifying and breaths are fleeting. And therein lies the true dichotomy of In The Whale — a brilliant blending of cathartic, hard rock with glass-raising hooks, that goes far beyond the initial mosh pit party vibe. In The Whale can throw a party, but they can also make its attendees think in the process.
With more than eight years, a slew of EPs, and a full-length under their belt — not to mention an insanely impressive tour schedule — In The Whale is continuing to delicately tweak their bombastic sound, mostly to accompany their ever-maturing songwriting.