Prey, the long awaited release coming from Planes Mistaken For Stars after a 10-year hiatus had been silently teased during the short promotional touring for Mercy’s, near its 10-year anniversary. Planes Mistaken For Stars had been keeping quiet, dropping initial teases over a full year before finally releasing Prey to the public, delivering on another solid record that conjured up a new section in the genre-blending discography.
A rushed assault makes up the first impression of Prey, “Dementia Americana” which draws inspiration from punk rock aspects where the drums are a quickened flurry and the guitars can become both abrasive and a moving target in how the track is portrayed. The biggest focus is on how powerful, moving, and stunning the track is from the first moments where screams of guitarist and vocalist Gared O’Donnell drive home the force that works in tandem with Planes Mistaken For Stars’ driving attitude when approaching the musical sections. In a sudden 180-degree turn, the following track is replaced by a much calmer, almost abstract style that put the guitars into more of a melodic run that has drummer, Mike Ricketts focusing on backing tom smacks and a gradual build-up in the track’s second half.
“Til’ It Clicks” has a much more varied field of depth when it comes to how it is presented, Planes Mistaken For Stars abandons the crunching style of “Dementia Americana” and adopts more closely to their stoner-rock style with mixes of ambience that fully combines a wonderful weave of genres. Planes Mistaken For Stars utilize both bass players, Aaron Wise, and Neil Keener who have been traveling with the band for well over ten years; together the gruff undertones where the bass can create a substantial groove of a rhythm section spawns a lovely advance between different sections of the track. “Til’ It Clicks” consistently changes between a gradual crawl and a slamming crush where Planes Mistaken For Stars switch into an entirely different breed of animal.
Moving on, “She Who Steps” becomes a collective effort to display additional power coming straight from Planes Mistaken For Stars. They don’t make this track a complete over-exemplified power struggle, but instead change the formula and contain more building sections rather than breakdowns. Between the ripping chords, crashing cymbals, and the screams of agony that play in the background, it completes a recipe for a pop song that takes a bitter end, but launches into one of the more beautiful segues that has pianos playing Planes Mistaken For Stars into their next piece of bravado style.
The droning continually adds to their musical methods, and the track “Clean Up Mean” is the first track that really brings a memorable set of grooves and sound that can resonate throughout the rest of Prey. The guitars are almost winding and set this real sense of depth to the sound, this is all while the percussion is more of a subtle addition that somberly plays along with the grieving instrumental. There is a rather distinct style that O’Donnell takes up upon on “Clean Up Mean,” and the following track, “Black Rabbit” which while an entirely too short track; he attaches a pained voice onto a blissful instrumental that repeats, “Hear your keys, though I suffer the request.” The rasp inside O’Donnell’s voice creates a sense of disparity within the instrumental and attaches this additional segue from a door opening into the last act of Prey.
“Pan In Flames” is a light-footed, rapid-round of a track that moves in quickly, wrecks the place, and then leaves without a real trace. Planes Mistaken For Stars are interesting in the way that they conduct their song progression, it almost always contains some amount of breakdown where a single instrument will take the reigns and allow the others to take a backseat. In this instance, the bass creates a low grumble while O’Donnell sings in an intimidating tone that slowly fades out into an unbreakable silence.
The final two tracks, “Enemy Blinds,” and “Alabaster Cello” almost blend together in the way that they are presented. “Enemy Blinds” has a humble beginning of a minimalistic approach with only a guitar and vocals, then as Planes Mistaken For Stars begins to add more layers onto the track, it becomes clear that they will eventually scrap the gentle uprising, for more of a stylish, firework like finish that contains different crashing and a huge focus on the guitars’ slick work. “Enemy Blinds” has Planes Mistaken For Stars slamming into “Alabaster Cello” in a quick, transitioning fashion that can be missed quite easily. It is a subtle change that is masked by the crashes of cymbals and the bassists’ work, but a change that eventually leads to the finale of Prey.
Planes Mistaken For Stars spares no final moments as they continually build up before reaching max capacity and launching into not a full-frontal assault, but a somber build that has most of its intensity focusing on the percussion which plays sporadically when compared to the other sections of the instrumentalists. In the final moments, “Alabaster Cello” becomes a blaze of glory, that burns brightest when the guitars, percussion, and basses all play in what seems like everlasting droning out where the final cymbal hit can be the extinguisher of Prey, reigning out and being the bridge to the silence.