EP Review: En Garde – Self Titled

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En Garde

En Garde - Count Your Lucky Stars Records

In the summer of 2012 Akron, OH’s En Garde tracked a collection of songs in Philadelphia, PA’s Headroom Studios, now almost decade later they are finally surfacing as a self titled EP courtesy of the aptly named Count Your Lucky Stars Records. The duo of Ross Horvath and Andy Hendricks, who are also members of A Voice Like Rhetoric and Annabel respectively, have adopted an unfamiliar stripped back approach on these recordings, at least when compared to the soundtrack you would expect from members of those two outfits.

The strident ‘Our Hands‘ opens up the EP, whilst there are similarities to their previous outfits this EP feels more streamlined, those trademark tinges of math rock and emo are still present and correct, and regularly punctuate the songs, but the body of the song is more direct and earnest. ‘Cri De Coeur‘ follows in the footsteps of it’s predecessor, as does ‘Self Poortraits‘, and I’m starting to find myself perpetually distracted by the distinct lines drawn between the styles that are meshed together, from the discordant duo’s heartfelt and stark rhythms to the technical noodles that regularly shoulder their noisier sibling out of the way. By the the time the final two tracks, ‘Edentulism‘ and ‘Tightropes‘, fade out, the duo’s technical side has come to the fore, but without sacrificing the passion and energy of the vocal delivery.

En Garde is a confrontational band name and title, at least it was in the days of swashbuckling sword fights, but it’s a perfect name for this discordant and earnest duo, if the more math and emo influenced side of punk is something your crave, especially if Thrice, Say Anything and Mewithoutyou are nestling in your collection, then En Garde‘s self titled debut might just hit your spot. This EP is a collision of styles and it’s a release that certainly won’t please everyone, and I’ll guarantee that “En Garde” is a EP that will divide opinion, but, and this is big but, this is usually a sign that you’re doing something right, the flip side of this is that there are those who will adore this unique collaboration.

En Garde‘s self titled EP can be pre-ordered via Count Your Lucky Stars Records here