Looking into their latest EP release

by Isabel Evangelista (Editor in Chief) – 11/4/15

A display of the physical copy of the Trails EP and release show ticket stub
A display of the physical copy of the Trails EP and release show ticket stub

Animal Friend, a local band from Santa Clarita, released their debut EP, Trails, on September 4th in order to display their potential as a progressive hardcore band in the local music scene. They also held a show to commemorate the release of their EP the day that it was released, handing out physical copies of the EP to the first 100 attendees.

The 12-minute EP contains four tracks: “Blue Dolphin,” “Psychic Rift,” “Demise,” and “Writer’s Block.” Trails was produced by Zachary Tuch, who has also tended to local bands such as San Fernando Valley natives At Our Expense. At first listen, it’s clear that Animal Friend is showcasing how diverse of a band they are through how distinct each track sounds. Their sound shares a similarity to that of Touché Amoré, Counterparts, or La Dispute.

The EP is kicked off with “Blue Dolphin.” The track’s guitar is outstanding and the song is well-paced overall. It’s a great choice to prepare listeners for what’s to come. The song doesn’t hit too hard, but it isn’t too soft either; they kept the track at the right consistency. The lyrics make the song seem as if there’s a longing for the way things used to be, and having it combined with the tone of the song sets the mood well. The most notable part is near the end when it’s stated, “That look suits you/ It leaves me blind/ Trails in the air/ Intertwined/ We were so innocent.” Animal Friend did not disappoint both in the EP and in person when the song was performed.

“Psychic Rift” starts off as one of the mellow-sounding tracks in the EP, with a memorable bass, and slowly starts to pick up the pace as it progresses. The breakdown of the song was a little slow, but when it was performed live, it was enjoyed by the crowd and managed to start up a pretty hyped pit. The lyrics of “Psychic Rift” definitely remind me of those within Counterpart’s songs at first glance, with verses such as, “Self-Destructive is my name/ Lost my worth with the stain/ Does it matter anyway?/ Watch me lose it all.” I thought it was interesting for vocalist Hans Penner to include heavy breathing that is synced with the breakdown. It brought a new aspect to the table and made the song more memorable when initially hearing it live.

“Demise” is a fantastic song. As soon as the first chord is struck, you’re hit with heavy, powerful riffs. The drums were well done and helped set up the hyped up atmosphere a lot. The song overall is sensational, and the pacing is fun, energetic, and loud in a good sense. The lyrics have a huge impact when you listen to them. “Drain me of my youth/ Drifting farther from the truth/ Arriving at no conclusion/ Jaded by my own delusions/ I’ve lost hope/ I am my own demise.” “Demise” really packs a punch; it’s a great track to hear live and riled up the audience well. It’s definitely my favorite track to hear off of the EP as well as my new favorite track to hear live.

“Writer’s Block” was a great ending to a great EP. The guitar was very well composed and was my favorite part of this song, especially at the halfway point. It shared a similar format to “Psychic Rift,” where it slowly builds up the pace to a great song. The track’s breakdown made the song fun to hear, and it was clear that they wanted to end the EP with a bang.

Animal Friend is a band that has so much promise, and it’s well established from the music they produce to the shows they perform. There hasn’t been a set that I’ve witnessed from them that has brought me anything less than satisfaction. Trails is available for your listening pleasure on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and YouTube. You can follow on Animal Friend’s musical endeavours on Facebook and Instagram.