Quarantine Can’t Slow Down James Kennedy or His New EP ‘Jungle of Light’
May 13, 2020
May 13, 2020
As soon as you hit ‘play’ on the Eat Me Alive EP, you are hit with a brilliant blend of dread, excitement, and sheer anticipation. The mind begins to frantically scurry, as you realize: there is nowhere to hide. Like an animal seeking shelter before a hurricane, you don’t know what’s about to happen, you don’t know if you’ll be safe, and you don’t know if you will ever be the same after this experience. And yet, as twisted as is it might be, a small part of you wishes you could watch the storm in all its glory, despite the destructive reality. And that’s where our story begins: the moment when you decide to look back, watch the devastation unfold, and embrace the beauty in darkness. By pressing ‘play,’ you embrace the full, brutal impact of a perfect storm: the Eat Me Alive EP by SWARM.
Before we begin our journey, please take a moment to check out the official digital booklet for the Eat Me Alive EP. Inside, you will find lyrics, additional art, and an outline of the EP. Trust us, this booklet is your one and only sense of security, as the EP may prove too treacherous without this guidance. Now, with that in mind, let us begin.
In “Forshadow,” SWARM and Soundr summon a sinister ambiance, a drop-dead gorgeous orchestration, and a haunting vocal sample. With dark and eerie thoughts throughout, our assumed narrator—or guide, perhaps—sets the stage for what promises to be an unforgettable show. As we begin to follow her down this dark and winding road, one can’t help but wonder what our next stop will be; or, more importantly, our final destination.
The first full-length track of the EP, “Devour Me,” begins with an intriguing mix of sounds and sensations. The initial atmosphere is fearful, dangerous, and quiet… too quiet. Suddenly, the climate changes. Practically out of nowhere, we’re surrounded by strings, choir chants, heavy metal drums, and so much more. As if we weren’t mystified enough, SWARM adds yet another element: a robotic, riveting voice repeating the same line over and over again, “Swallow… me… whole…”
As one would imagine, the drops are phenomenal. In the course of just this song, Brandon Carroll—the man behind SWARM—encompasses so many different sounds and styles. In the first drop, we have a slow and steady tempo with sickening synths, booming basses, and deadly drums. The second drop, however, is an entirely different beast – one that can’t be contained. With a free-flow groove, next-level heavy-metal drum work, and several evolutions of the first drop, the second half of ‘Devour Me’ is absolute madness in the best ways imaginable.
What would you do if the devil was at your door? Would you run? Would you scream? Would you crumble to your knees? Whatever your answer may be, this song will downright deadly. With an outstanding orchestration, sensational songwriting, vibrant vocals, and more, when you listen to “Devil’s At Your Door,” don’t be surprised if your jaw hits the floor. While the vocals are incredibly lovely, the drops are very, very bloodthirsty. Gritty, groovy, and glitchy, there is no question that Carroll and TINYKVT are craving chaos at the core of each drop. And yet, with bright and airy notes above us, there is at least a shred of salvation amidst this devastation; that, however, is about to change. Soon, “All Hope Is Lost.”
As the intro fills us with gravel, static, and anxiety, Brandon brings in some of his signature heavy-metal drums, additional ambiance, and several other captivating components. Then, we are told that “All Hope Is Lost.” From there, we begin spiraling into a dark and heavy drop. While the initial drop is delightful in its own right, it is ultimately a stepping stone. If you listen closely, you can hear Carroll carefully folding in more and more layers as the beat continues. As if these nuances weren’t enough, he also adds several obvious evolutions along the way, including a snappy snare, choir chants, classic SWARM-style strings, a tempo change, and so much more.
Simply put, the first drop alone is an exemplary showcase of versatility, creativity, and consistency. In other words, no matter what SWARM wants his music to sound like, he can, and will, achieve it. Case in point: the second drop contains his first-ever psytrance drop, and it’s absolutely awesome. One might question whether or not a psytrance section could ever sound like a SWARM song; and, to some extent, that’s a valid concern. But, at the end of the day, this is ultimately an opportunity for Carroll to create a perfect balance between his signature sounds and a genre outside of his wheelhouse. And, to no one’s surprise, he nails it; he completely and utterly nails it.
Not only does the psytrance drop fit the mold of the genre, but it completely shatters it, too. As the beat comes in, SWARM seamlessly interweaves cinematic drums, heavy-metal moments, choir chants, and more. In the end, we have everything we love about SWARM in the form of a new and out-of-character genre; and yet, all of those components come together perfectly. Add another section of vintage SWARM to the final drop, and you’ve got yourself one of the best tracks Brandon Carroll has ever produced.
Like any other “Black Hole,” this tune is all-consuming. While the song starts out spacious and ethereal, SWARM and Social Kid quickly take us to a deeper, darker place – the drop. Here, we are met with a killer kick drum, demonic distortion, and bountiful bass. As the beat progresses, it gradually get heavier, dirtier, and even more sinister. Other than the masterful production, there is nothing pretty about this track; it’s just pure pandemonium, and it’s absolutely glorious.
In the second drop, the dynamic due of SWARM and Social Kid slow the tempo, add heavy metal mayhem, and prepare us for what’s yet to come – the third and final drop. This, of course, is the most complex, dangerous, and downright deadly of the three. Somehow, SWARM and Social Kid manage to give this final stretch even more anger, frustration, and power than its predecessors. Trust us, the longer you listen to this track, the more impressive it becomes.
At long last, we’ve arrived at our final destination, the titular track, “Eat Me Alive.” Here, Soundr rejoins SWARM, picking up where they left off in the intro, “Forshadow.” As she resumes her narrative, SWARM sets the mood with bone-chilling ambiance, a gruesome yet gorgeous orchestration, and a simply masterful production. With strings overhead and bass beneath us, we begin our descent into darkness. Throughout the course of the first drop, we encounter punchy drums, breathtaking bass, sickening synths, haunting vocals, and so much more. Then, the second drop delivers all of that, plus epic choir chants, scintillating strings, a slower tempo, enhanced electronic elements, and even more madness. Honestly, words can’t do it justice; you need to experience this brilliance for yourself.
Near the midpoint of the song, we have an exceptional second verse, an alluring atmosphere, and an incredible world created by SWARM. Yet another showcase of his versatility, the third drop begins with an entirely separate set of sounds; and, somehow, they fit perfectly. Not done yet, our fourth and final drop encompasses the narrative of Soundr, SWARM’s sinister synths and basses, the gorgeous orchestration, and practically every component imaginable. As a result, any given listener can hear how complex, intricate, and incredible this final stretch of the EP truly is.
In the end, there is absolutely no doubt that Brandon Carroll gave this EP every single ounce of his being. If the Eat Me Alive EP tells us anything, it’s this–there is no limit for SWARM. Whatever he wants to create, he can achieve it; whatever styles he hopes to incorporate, he can do so seamlessly; and whatever narrative he plans to tell, it will be delivered powerfully, memorably, and perfectly.