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  Thy Mighty Contract  
  Thy Mighty Contract  
  Room 10 Collective  
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Formed in 2007 with current and former members from bands like The Orphins, Blame Game, and I Would Set Myself on Fire for You, it perhaps isn't surprising that in concert, the music of Atlanta's Thy Mighty Contract comes off as aggressively hard post-punk. But at the same time, underneath the angular rhythms and forceful vocals, there remains a slight poppiness that infuses the individual melodies. It's not overwhelming, but instead rather pervasive, so much so that I've oftentimes found myself humming the tunes along with the band, just like I would with any of the more standard indie rock acts to which I normally listen. Now, in a remarkably short amount time for an Atlanta band, the band has released a self-titled debut album which blends these two seemingly contradictory elements in a well-recorded and well-produced mix that manages to meld everything together without creating chaos..

Thy Mighty Contract begins with Bats In The Dark, a song that itself starts with a melodic chord progression that is reminiscent of the best work of late North Carolina band Eyes to Space before drummer Max McDonough chimes in with the rapid, hard hitting, cymbal heavy beat which characterizes not only this band but his other act, The Orphins. Over this all, vocalist Lindsey Harbour almost screams in a credible homage to early female punk frontwoman Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex). Taken together this combination introduces Thy Mighty Contract with a forceful bang, which is confirmed by the next track, Conjugal Freelance. Although this tune begins on a relatively slowly with minimalist effected guitar over cymbals, it quickly picks up speed courtesy of a brisk bassline and Harbour's emphatic vocals, then, at the 45 second mark, the song becomes even faster for a brief interlude before falling back into the less speedy melody, although this time with higher pitched guitars and still more thudding bass. This is a tune that, with all the changes, could come across as chaotically messy, but instead Thy Mighty Contract manages to hold everything together so that the song manages to make musical sense.

This same play with tone and rhythm continues throughout the album. As an example, Like I Mean It starts with a rapid fire, almost thrashy beat that alternates with almost reggae like tune. Likewise, the instrumental Inconspicuous Overlander begins with an positively ominous kickdrum and bass melody to which angularly sharp guitarwork is quickly added. As the song progresses, the rhythm speeds up and the empty spaces within the song are filled with more and more music so that the tune builds and builds into a crescendo that sudden breaks into silence. This is a particularly nicely done tune (perhaps the best on the album), that reminds me a little of a harder math rock act like Cinemechanica in their less loud moments.

Yet, despite the band's rather distinctive style, there are a few surprises in the middle of the album. Two Cities begins with a softly off kilter guitar melody over which Harbour's vocals come across as positively gentle and pop-like. In fact, as the music increases in instrumentation, Harbour's voice stays soft (except for a screaming bit right in the middle that may or may not be her, as I can't tell), adding a nice contrast to the sharpness of the music. In some ways, a song like this really brings back memories of Atlanta band Toenut, who often combined such elements back in the 90s. Likewise, Kill What You Can manages to comes across as more trebly and sharp than other tunes on the album, courtesy of the higher-pitched guitar trills and nearly absent basswork. It's on this song, which emphasizes the guitar and drums over the voice, where you can hear the presence of The Orphins's two members, the afore-mentioned drummer McDonough and guitarist Thomas Barnwell.

But after that little interlude, it's back to the more straight up punk side with the screamingly angry sounding Yur a Piece of Wurk, in which Thy Mighty Contract comes the closest to falling into chaos. Nevertheless, Partners in Crimes ends the album by bringing the music back into line, again combining the angular beat and thudding bass with off-kilter guitarwork and emphatic vocals. This is another good tune that hides a catchy little melody underneath all the instrumentation, which provides a nice way to wrap everything up.

In the end, I have to give Thy Mighty Contract credit as I honestly didn't think they could translate their organized musical chaos and forcefulness onto the recorded medium. And Thy Mighty Contract does work well as an introduction to the band, because if you like the record, then you'll like their live shows. Nevertheless, as much I appreciated the album, I must say it's not an easy listen. The music is harsh and rather aggressive, so it's not something you just put on in the background while you sip coffee and read the newspaper (and don't pop it in right after the O + S album, as it'll be something of a shock to the system, as I found out one morning). Rather, Thy Mighty Contract demands your attention, which works quite well when you're in the proper mood and know what to expect.

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