Sparta came to life in spring 2001 when At the Drive-In went on hiatus. Austere, the band's first release, followed the next year. With the bandmembers mixing an intensity similar to their former group alongside emo-like intellect, the Austere EP doesn't live in the shadows of what once was. The punk scowling of "Mye" finds sharp twitchy guitar work layered over Jim Ward's trembling vocals. It's the strongest track on the record, while the blurry vision of "Vacant Skies" follows closely behind. "Cataract" is more experimental with its electronic breakbeats; however, a melancholy emo tone takes over. The members of Sparta have found their punk-inspired edge without riding the coattails of their previous band. They've delivered a passionate and decent sound -- a great look at what's yet to come.