Often credited as the first hardcore band to include a violinist (I'm not sure that's true), Saké contributed a small but interesting body of work to the stellar Northern California punk cannon. As far as I know, their "Piñata" 10" (1996?) and unnamed 7" (1997, both released by Hopscotch Records) were their only releases. Based in Eureka, California, Saké seemed to draw as much influence from the great Bay Area hardcore bands of the early '90's, as from the progressive metal pioneers (Neurosis, Logical Nonsense) of the time. The hardcore influence rears its head on a few tracks where the band kicks up its pace, and certainly in the vocals, which consist of both male and female yellers and screamers (at least when the violinist isn't playing her parts). Lyrically, the band stays within the righteous framework of their time and place, spouting off against gender injustice, backstabbers, and the spiritual and environmental price of progress. The general pace, however, betrays the more sludgy, metal influence, as do the meandering, unpredictable song structures which, by punk standards, enter into almost epic territory. In better moments, the songwriting is powerful, with some driving riffs, and even a little groove here and there, but at other times it drags on (but very seldom). In the case of Saké, I would say that the violin indeed adds to their sound (i.e. it isn't thrown in just to be different). Said violin is used both as a great device for moody intros, as well as a melodic component to the actual songwriting (in both fast and slow sections). On one track ("The Desert"), the melody transforms from an almost middle eastern sound, to a more American or Irish folk one. Very interesting stuff indeed.
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