Inhale Exhale is as straightforward as breathing itself. The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred, the Ohio band's Solid State debut, is refreshing in equal measure for its love of heavy diverse music as it is the depth to which it mines classic rock.
Imagine the Southern-fried sludge of Down merging with the post-hardcore angst of Refused and the snake-boogie of Velvet Revolver. Add to that formula the gutter growl of Soilwork, the song-craft of Killswitch Engage and the diversity and depth of feeling of Thrice and you might start to get the right idea.
"We have our own style of rock," states Larussa, echoing a sentiment shared by singer Ryland Raus, bass player Brian Pitman and drummer Bobby Poole. "We feel that it's structured well, and that it brings people in. We want someone to pop our disc in on the way to work if they need to hear something that will lift them up, and at the same time hear something with passion and raw energy."
Thrash metal (including Bay Area legends Testament), singer-songwriters (ever heard of Johnny Cash?) and even a bit of country music informs what Inhale Exhale brings forth: emotionally moving but brutal tunes.
Best of all, Inhale Exhale's songs make sense. The landscape is cluttered with bands who have no idea how to string their riffs together. In contrast they've gone to great lengths to structure things properly, and take their musicianship seriously.
LaRussa records demos at home and hands them over to Poole. "He works what he wants into the song and then we hand it over to Brian,"¯ he explains. Inhale Exhale have built a true brotherhood where they actually enjoy each other's company, as evident in their songwriting process and collaborative mindset.
"It's a very cool process if you can do it,"¯ LaRussa states. "I put a lot of thought in the songs when I'm writing them, and a lot of times it's easier to do that alone. I think that it works that way for the rest of the guys too."
Producer Travis Wyrick (10 years, P.O.D.) was able to harness that dedication when the band entered a Knoxville, Tennesse studio to craft their debut.
"Travis was the perfect rock guy for us. He grew up playing and listening to old rock and metal, but yet he isn't stuck back there,"¯ LaRussa points out. "He listened to our ideas, and we listened to his. It helps that we had the record written, but Travis brought exactly what we wanted a producer to bring. We are a very independent band, and he supported that. And sonically he knows how to capture the most out of a guitar rock band. And he lets the instruments breathe."
This same mindset applies to the lyrics and thematic concepts wrapped up in Inhale Exhale as well. The Lost represents the frailty of many human beings who feel confused about their beliefs or themselves in general. The Sick represents the literal physical deterioration we experience as part of life and makes a bit of a social commentary as well. Media tries to tell us that we are not good enough on a daily basis, they say you are not good-looking, you are not talented, you are not going to do anything with your life, etc.
"But we believe in the power of God,"¯ he proclaims, pointing out where The Sacred comes into play. "God says we are going to make it. He says life is worth living. And that's where our hope dwells. We constantly separate ourselves in this world with prejudice but we are all people trying to make it through life and we have to accept each other for who we are and what we believe."
They would love to tour, make records and make a living off their band, but most importantly Inhale Exhale strive to be men of integrity about their beliefs and to be honest with their music, whether its comes out negative or positive. "Sometimes you have to get through the dark areas in your life to find the light."
Something so vital yet so simple, like breathing itself. Sometimes you have to get alone and breathe and meditate on the good things out of life.¯ Inhale Exhale indeed.
Inhale Exhale| Posted February 29, 2016
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