The Phantom Tollbooth
Six-Song Demo
Artist: The Autumn War
Label: Indie
Length: 6 tracks/32.12

An Illinois-based rock act with progressive tendencies in their focus and some chord progressions, The Autumn War are a versatile bunch, moving from a jangly arpeggio to a darker "phased" sound, and then on to flying-finger guitar solos within the course of the first track.

The band's sound is based around the twin guitars of Mike Pilato (lead) and Christopher Bunn (rhythm), with the latter's vocals being strong in the mix. The whole band turn in competent contributions, but it would be nice to hear a stronger melody coming through as the earlier songs tend to get a little weighed down. From "Mr. Robinson" onwards things develop in this regard--the final track is very well balanced, brooding, and engaging--but a little more consistency is needed in this area.

The lyrics were all penned by Bunn and deal with somewhat weightier subjects than those of many bands. For example, the aforementioned "Mr. Robinson" looks at a life devoid of purpose which, despite the lyrical reference to the love of Christ, ends in a lonely fashion. The Autumn War isn't looking for easy answers but rather wanting to engage with the truth of human life.

The Autumn War still has a way to go before they'll be ready for a full-length release. They have covered their bases fairly well, but need to add something to give their music more of a consistent spark--the songs needn't be immediately accessible, but do need to pull the listener in some more.

James Stewart (3/20/99)