Tommy Rogers, the frontman of Progressive Metal band Between The Buried And Me (BTBAM), returns for a solo project  as Thomas Giles, and looks set to expand his music repertoire by experimenting with genres that his fans are unfamiliar with.

The concept is common. Plenty of professional musicians have set up side projects as an outlet to express ideas that differ from their bands’. A few have succeeded (think Paul Gilbert), while others only faded into the dark abyss.

Renowned for his harsh vocals and screams in BTBAM, Giles is no one-trick pony. While elements of his ferocious singing style can be heard in a song or two, the album focuses more on his peaceful, singing abilities.

Despite his flawless vocal approach, the savant vocalist admitted that he struggled with singing when he first started out. “It’s hard, it’s taken me years and years to even be able to do it,” he said in an interview with The Billings Gazette.

The debut record also showcases the underrated singer’s many talents. The man single-handedly composed, arranged and produced the album in its entirety.

“This record was a way for me to step back, focus on simplified song structures and really build off of melodies. Even though I love ****ing my throat up by screaming, it’s very nice to sit back and chill out a bit,” Giles was quoted saying in the press release.

The first single, “Sleep Shake”, serves as the curtain raiser for the excellent record. The alluring vocals of Giles grow on you with every listen as the song climaxes with the harsh, distorted sound of the guitars. The music video highlights the amount of work Giles put into the record— by including shots of him playing all the instruments. No, we don’t see it as narcissism, Mr Giles.

If you yearn for a slow, emotional ballad, “Mr Bird” fits the bill perfectly. The mournful piano melody, accompanied with the melancholic lyrics- “Destined to crash, Falling so fast, Can’t fool me I’m sad, Fly Solo” – and restrained guitar solo, unfortunately make it the only somber track of the record.

Amid the bundle of gems, the American multi-instrumentalist probably shone the brightest in “Hypoxia”. The song is a culmination of sorts in the album as it binds melancholic singing with serene guitar and keyboard euphony. It is so overwhelming that we felt our auditory senses grin while our minds are limpid.

However, the album doesn’t come without a few missteps. The track “Medic” sticks out like a sore thumb as the song structure adheres to the Metal format— downtuned guitars coupled with ferocious drumbeats and screaming vocals.

Also, Giles should probably have roped in a session drummer to record Pulse. UrbanWire noticed that the drum fills for certain songs didn’t feel natural. For example, “Suspend The Death Watch” displayed the vocalist’s shortcomings of being a drummer, as the style of drumming is almost comparable to Metallica’s Lars Ulrich when the Dane recorded the much-maligned St Anger.

Perhaps it’s too much too ask for the seamless transitions between songs that we so often hear from BTBAM. Nevertheless, the vocalist’s effort is commendable.

Pulse certainly has both depth and breadth in terms of music, compared to other solo efforts by Brandon Flowers . BTBAM fanboys will come to appreciate genres such as Electronic, Metal and Acoustic in their entirety and not just snippets. Giles approach to music might be conventional; but he certainly won’t lose any fans with this release.

Artist: Thomas Giles
Album: Pulse
Rating: ★★★★✩

Language: English
Genre: Acoustic/ Alternative/ Electronic
Release Date: 1 Feb 2011

1. Sleep Shake
2. Reverb Island
3. Mr. Bird
4. Catch And Release
5. Hamilton Anxiety Scale
6. Scared
7. Reject Falicon
8. Medic
9. Suspend the Death Watch
10. Armchair Travel
11. Hypoxia