Sianvar’s ‘Stay Lost’ shows supergroup firing on all cylinders

By Fitzgerald Pucci

(Mike Daclan/Flickr)
(Mike Daclan/Flickr)

In the churning sea of modern experimental post-hardcore, bands throughout the genre have been trying to find something new to call their own.

Diverse rhythms, unexpected progressions and fresh, exciting features have been at the epicenter of many of the albums in one of the most release-heavy years in memory. Now, Sianvar has crafted its own statement. Using a blisteringly talented group of some of the scene’s biggest and best musicians, they made a titanic full-length album filled to the brim with moments of brilliance across the musical and emotional spectrum that feel natural and rock at full throttle.

Conveying emotions and rocking hard are the two clearest goals of “Stay Lost,” the band’s debut album released Aug. 5. The delicate harmony between Donovan Melero’s vocals and the band’s instrumentation strike a unique balance between emotion and technicality, always ending with a delicious tinge of obscurity.

The super-group consisting of Donovan Melero (Vocals, Hail The Sun), Will Swan (Guitar, Dance Gavin Dance), Sergio Medina, (Guitar, Stolas), Joseph Arrington (Drums, A Lot Like Birds) and Michael Franzino (Bass, A Lot Like Birds) is like a melting pot, an ensemble that allows the outspoken styles of each member to come out without restriction, and then meld into a pointed and profound collective of emotionally-charged sounds.

From upbeat, danceable bangers to breathtaking, sexy refrains, there’s something on “Stay Lost” that almost everyone can enjoy.

The pensive lyrics and Anthony Green-influenced vocals of Donovan Melero add a poignant and palatable edge to Sianvar’s sound that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed since his early work in Hail the Sun, released in 2009.

Melero’s vocal chops have developed to the point where he can maintain his own style across ten wildly different songs, keeping creative diversity on top of an intricate stage of instrumentation that eloquently depicts how each song feels. Hitting on topics like addiction, depression, and relationships, Melero creates potent narratives throughout the album.

With voice modifiers that sound fresh out of a Poltergeist revamp and weightless, fluttering guitar licks from Swan and Medina, “Omniphobia” becomes a spooky, groovy stage for Melero to croon some of the most provocative lyrics off the album.

Melero’s sweet, melodic vocals shine through in songs like “1100 Days” and “Don’t Carry This,” showing a powerful, soft sound. Perhaps the highlight of Melero’s vocals on “Stay Lost” is in the last minute of “Bedroots.” Taking a sharp turn in a matter of seconds from an especially punchy sound wall, the last minute is like riding a 5/4 time signature rocket ship to another planet.

For every contribution Melero makes to the sound on “Stay Lost,” there is an equal contribution from guitarists Medina and Swan, whose styles are so prominent that a careful ear can depict their differing guitar licks from the first listen. Medina’s tenacious, solo-oriented shredding and Swan’s distorted, funk-busting licks are both noticeably akin to the sounds of their respective bands, and can be enjoyed with particular clarity in split-part bops like “1100 Days.”

The outstanding duality of Medina and Swan accentuates how successful a job Sianvar has done in showing how a supergroup should play, chugging with every cylinder they’ve got to play the most challenging music they can think of to the best of their ability.

The rhythms of “Stay Lost,” played by Arrington on percussion and Franzino on bass, feel both self-aware and articulate. Arrington puts the concept of simplistic and repetitive percussion to shame, dancing across his set with wild polyrhythms, catchy grooves and a style that can change from light on its feet to heavy-handed at a moment’s notice.

When the alternating roars of Swan and Medina are in respite, Franzino holds down a tight bottom line and fills out the walls of sound. The album would probably have been improved by more of Franzino’s presence during the myriad exchanges of guitar riffs through the album, but the strong presence he has in “Foxholes and Deities” makes up for a lot of the less bass-heavy moments on the album.

Arrington and Franzino do an exemplary job of simultaneously controlling and moving with the band’s collective sound, managing on fractions of seconds to incorporate themselves into the collective shared by Melero, Swan, and Medina.

Unabashedly variable, technically staggering, and profoundly personal, Sianvar’s “Stay Lost” is a culmination of some of the year’s strongest individual musicians in post-hardcore, giving their all towards an album creatively, physically and personally. This album is truly proof that you get what you put into something.

Fitzgerald Pucci can be reached at [email protected] and contacted on Twitter @DrMessBDSD.