It’s been just about two months since Massachusetts-based rock band Somos released their latest album “Prison on a Hill”, which is just enough time for me to properly listen to and reflect on the album in its entirety. Before you ask – no, I’m certainly not using this as an excuse for writing this review so late.
“Prison on a Hill” is Somos’ third album, immediately following their latest release “First Day Back” in 2016, and their first full-length “Temple of Plenty” in 2014. I’ve been following this band since “Temple of Plenty” released and have been hooked on the way they manage to blend post-rock and shoegaze while still incorporating heavily melodic guitars and catchy hooks. “Temple of Plenty” was one of the first albums in which I made a serious attempt to learn all of the lyrics to all of the songs so that I could scream along at the bands’ live shows, and I’ve since yearned for another album to satisfy that experience for me again.
Sadly, “First Day Back” did not fit that criteria for me. Maybe it’s because I’d fallen so deeply in love with “Temple of Plenty”, and set impossible standards for any other album that Somos released; maybe it had something to do with them releasing the album under a different record label; or maybe I’m just a pretentious asshole. Whatever the case may be, I was disappointed with the album, and was admittedly a bit skeptical about Somos’ “Prison on a Hill” when I found out it had been released. However, I tried to keep an open mind throughout my first listen.
The opening track, The Granite Face, starts off with the hard-hitting guitar riffs, pounding drum rhythms, and ethereal vocals I had loved on “Temple of Plenty”, but noticed that they decided to incorporate some electronic synth elements as well. The song is beautifully composed, and the lyrics are carefully crafted with the same poetic flavor that I enjoyed so much on “Temple of Plenty”. While I’m still uncertain about whether I enjoy the addition of electronic components to hard-hitting rock music or not, I will say that “The Granite Face” is an excellent opening track.
The other most notable tracks on the album, in my opinion, are Iron Heel, Mediterranean, Ammunition, and New Blood. I believe these songs best reflect Somos’ evolution as a band, while still paying tribute to the sound they nailed in “Temple of Plenty”. These tracks have hardhitting guitar riffs; exceptional and melodic choruses; and a warm, tasty, shoegazy emo sound that you can’t help but want to sing along to.
All in all, I’m happy that Somos seems to have finally gotten back on track with the sound that I had fallen in love with so many years ago. I’m excited to hear them play these tracks live and have already started learning the lyrics to my favorite songs. “Temple on a Hill” is dedicated to the band’s late guitar player, Phil Haggerty. May he rest in power.
I give Prison on a Hill a solid 4/5.