Back in 2005, a band by the name of Acceptance released an album entitled Phantoms. An album that captured the keen Alternative Rock imagination, it still sounds fresh 15 years later. Sadly, Acceptance broke up within a couple of years of the album’s release, further putting the impressive Phantoms in the rearview mirror of listeners’ minds. Then, to the surprise of dedicated fans, they returned to the live stage in 2016, and finally released a proper sophomore album with 2017’s Colliding by Design. Long overdue, it received high praise for being a melodic, progressive, and vibrant effort. Something could have been viewed as perfect ending to Acceptance’s story, fortunately it was merely the launching point for more new music, and that comes in the form of 2020’s Wild, Free.
Out on Friday, October 2nd through Tooth & Nail Records, Wild, Free finds Jason Vena (vocals), Kaylan Cloyd (guitars), Garrett Lunceford (drums, keyboards), Christian McAlhaney (guitars), and Ryan Zwiefelhofer (bass) teaming up for more majestic Alternative Rock. Complete with 10 new, original songs, the feelings are warm, inviting, and full of bright colors.
Now, for those who might have missed 2017’s Colliding by Design, and only remember this band from long ago when Phantoms was released, you have to realize they have changed. Times have changed, the members are older, plus they have grown as people and musicians, so naturally the music is going to be different. More Pop-oriented, they have shed elements of Pop-Punk, but again, that should be expected. With this in mind, you will either embrace what this band has become or be disappointed by no fault of your own, because what they are doing nowadays is really quite powerful.
For Wild, Free they bring together a mix of organic sounding guitars, authentic synth, and marry it with well-written, emotional songs. This is evident with tracks like “Cold Air,” the upbeat “Release and Let Go,” as well as “Wasted Nights,” but brought to the next level of beauty with “Dark Age.” There are also mellow, sweet moments as heard on “Bend the Light,” plus the touching duet between Vena and Jessie Marie Villa on “Wildfires.” And there is also equally compelling Pop Rock with the emergency of cuts like “June 1985” and closer “At The Of The Earth,” which will bring you back to the early 2000s in a magnificent way.
Overall, Acceptance is doing a fine job of making up for lost time in their decade long hiatus. They are proving they are the band that wowed those who were lucky enough to discover Phantoms back in the day. In truth, Acceptance is the type of band that could fit on a playlist with Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Keane or U2 without even being second guessed. A delightful listening experience, Cryptic Rock gives Wild, Free 4 out of 5 stars.