Rainer Maria have definitely matured since their first full-length record, Past Worn Searching. Caithlin De Marrais’ bass work and vocals are much improved. Kyle Fischer’s guitar is still stop notch and William Kuehn’s drums direct their songs better than ever.

While lacking some of the angst and rage of earlier releases, Long Knives Drawn is still a welcome addition to the band’s already impressive catalog.

The most notable difference between Rainer Maria’s previous work and Knives is the absence of Fischer’s screaming background vocals, long a trademark of the band. Fischer, however, makes up for his new silence by throwing out some incredible guitar work, especially notable on the title track and in “Ears Ring,” tracks full of metal-like riffs that drive De Marrais’ caustic lyrics.

The rest of the tracks are solid but not altogether ground-breaking by Rainer Maria standards. The album lacks a “Breakfast of Champions” or an “Artificial Light,” something worthy of rolling your windows down and singing at the top of your lungs. “The Imperatives” and “CT Catholic” come close.

Still, Long Knives Drawn is a near-perfect album and well worth a listen. Fans will definitely enjoy it. Newcomers should probably check out Look Now, Look Again or A Better Version of Me first.

4 Stars

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