If Dark New Day’s HAIL MARY is about diversity, then its companion album, NEW TRADITION, is about unity; in many ways, they are actually polar opposites. It exists in the perfect middle-ground between their first two releases: all of the smooth linearity of their sophomore alongside the pure abstraction of their debut. There’s even a touch of crossover between the unofficial sophomore and this, the official sophomore: “Someday” – here titled “Sunday” – gets a complete lyrical, melodic and instrumental overhaul, essentially creating a brand new song, and, of course, the band includes a third rendition of the track “Fiend” in what is becoming a pattern similar to Edgewater’s tactic with “Tres Quatros”. It’s hard to make any claim to which is the superior version, as each are perfectly appropriate to their respective releases.
With its 48-minute runtime, the album drags a little in the middle, specifically with tracks “Straightjacket” and “Take it From Me”, both of which might have been better left on the cutting room floor for the sake of a tighter release. Like the band’s previous material, the musicianship has a strong leaning towards the rhythmic rather than the flashy. This isn’t a bad thing; it suits the group’s sound to a tee. The only thing truly missing from this album is the same thing that was missing on HAIL MARY: a criminal lack of backing vocals from the band’s extensively diverse and deep pool of talented vocalists. Though Hestla is more than capable of holding his own as the sole vocalist, it seems a shame to rob the listener of more isolated lines from the Lowery brothers, even if they do get their chance to shine on “Caught in the Light”. More of this would have been welcome.
In the end, it’s nice just to see another entry from the “Wind-Up scene”, as late as it is – this album, technically the band’s official sophomore release, arrives a full seven years after their debut, and is likely to be their last.