Listen/buy on Bandcamp
Years ago, I read a review of Pelican’s The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw that portrayed instrumental music as a desaturated photograph, the burden of color put squarely on the vocalist. It heaped all kinds of praise on the band’s lustrous brand of post-metal, but mourned what more they might accomplish with a Scott Kelly (Neurosis) or an Aaron Turner (Isis), whose music Pelican already resembled; and the argument was so compelling that I went on to assess bands by the presence and ability of their vocalist for years, dismissing two-to-five musicians as no more than the frontperson’s backing band.
This attitude faded over time as I discovered instrumental bands every bit as challenging and evocative as those with the more conventional setup, and now I find myself of the opposite opinion: that all the color comes from the musicians and it’s the vocalist who renders it black-and-white, through the sheer fact that they have already interpreted the music and decided what it will express. We can split hairs and make exceptions, but this is my dominant line of thinking, and it’s gotten a boost this year from two sources: From the Gallery of Sleep by Night Verses, for whom the departure of their vocalist sprang them from the post-hardcore box to create one of the most beguiling albums of the year; and Hemwick’s Junkie.
Hemwick are, ostensibly, a mathcore band, but there’s a vivid animation to the band’s playing, a dangerous elegance from the get-go that distances them from whatever that word means to you in 2018. Opener “Threads” establishes the broad strokes of rapid time-changes and huge sonic textures right away, but it resists easy genre categorization. Like what I imagine will be a sizable chunk of their fanbase, I discovered Hemwick through Cult Leader’s Instagram story, so the temptation to view them through the lens of “dark hardcore” is there. They’ve got the raw riffage and dirt-under-the-nails production job to warrant it. But both “Day Loss” and “Bloodmoon” have more in common with the nuance of Gospel, a band typically labeled screamo despite similarly progressive song structures and a disregard for everything that makes a band “screamo.” When “Bloodmoon” slows down, it glows like A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step; when “Day Loss” speeds up, it glowers like Yashira.
Of these five songs, “Day Loss” is the unquestionable highlight. The contrast it provides against “Threads” and “Yearn,” which draw from the mathcore/dark hardcore palette a little more liberally than the rest of Junkie, cannot be understated. Its placement on the tracklist feels like a conscious decision on Hemwick’s part: “You like that?” it says. “We can do that, but check this out.” And over the course of eight minutes, Hemwick lay all their tools out for you to admire--from tangled barb-wire noodling and bomb-shrapnel riffs to scintillating introspection; from the sort of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sleight-of-hand the genre has abused into parody to their indie-rock attention to space and detail.
You wonder what they’re going to do with it all. As far as I know, this band has never had a dedicated vocalist, and they’d be better off never to consider one, or perhaps to relegate that role to an occasional accessory, a la Bossk. The lack of an obvious focal point lends this organic, adventurous, and technical style of mathcore a certain mystique, and the absence of any marked imbalance in the skill level of each member makes for another favorable point of comparison between Hemwick and Night Verses. As they continue to explore and refine their craft, I think that Junkie will become a fond snapshot for fans, much like Under the Running Board to The Dillinger Escape Plan or Cattle to Gaza--an early glimpse into a remarkable future.
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Devouring Star is a two-man blackened death metal band that lean heavily enough on the blackened side of things to render the death metal an underlying framework, anchoring an brand of black metal in visceral interjections of brutality. On debut Through Heart and Lung, these interjections were sparing, and somewhat ineffective, but time and experience have taught Devouring Star the virtues of composition and moderation.
The Arteries of Heresy has an engaging ebb-and-flow, apparent from eight-minute opener “Consummation,” which wastes no time baptizing the listener in what might be called a meditative heaviness--loud and confrontational, with busy drumwork and throbbing riffs, but murky and repetitive enough to evoke a trancelike state in which that busy, throbbing heaviness becomes soothing. While it ramps up and down in bpm, it’s slow-burning and thoughtful in sum. Almyrkvi employs similar tactics on last year’s Umbra, and Behemoth have tried their hand at more patient structures with this year’s I Loved You At Your Darkest--though they practice on a grander, worldlier scale. The Arteries of Heresy works under cover of darkness, hailing from Finland, whose legendary death metal scene rarely informs Devouring Star’s output (if at all). Their attention to contrast and intra-song dynamics strays closer to the black metal of France, a self-acknowledged influence, infusing the heaviest moments of “Consummation,” “Scar Inscriptions,” and the masterful “Her Divine Arteries” with a delicious, cross-continental nastiness.
But as exciting as such moments are, it’s the poison haze surrounding these spikes of adrenaline that holds the record’s greatest intrigue. These sections are enthralling in their ritualistic unease, wearing away at the listener with undulating blast-beats and endless tremolo passages, lending metal gravitas to the philosophical import of The Arteries of Heresy. This is serious black metal, which I do not mean facetiously: in an interview with Metal Injection, vocalist and Devouring Star mastermind JL explains that,
...the purpose of trying to reach Heaven or Hell by following dogma and a spiritual path, is rendered useless in a Universe that holds all things, they exist at the same time and you are already there. But no matter what the religion is, this varies on how you see the structure of existence (God). Buddhism and Hinduism, for example, offer so much different esoteric approaches or approaches in general, that support this already, whereas Abrahamic religions are more slaves to their scriptures instead of philosophy, except once again in esotericism.
The overall idea for many is, that this reality we perceive (Maya) is an illusion and the true form of existence is hidden from our senses. Therefore, the spiritual work is based usually on lifting the veil between these planes and getting hints on the madness that unfolds behind. Some paths approach it so, that salvation lies in getting out of the cycle we are in (Samsara) unto the other plane.
I personally view that we as men are bound to the concept of Sin and this is the pit for us. To your readers, I might clear up that usually in Esotericism, God is seen as an abstract form that holds everything in existence or is existence itself.
How deeply the listener invests in Devouring Star’s message comes down to the listener’s stance on the role of religion. I am inclined to believe historian Oswald Spengler, who proposed that we are inextricably bound to our particular culture’s religious identity in his book, The Decline of the West. The act of rebellion strengthens the hold of the dominant institution, and given that Finland is a primarily Christian nation, Devouring Star’s attempt to dilute its importance by deferring to the theory of singularity does seem in keeping with Spengler’s thought. They make use of its iconography and language, after all, including a cover illustration of the Whore of Babylon “becoming one with the world,” and frequently engage with the concepts of “sin” and “salvation.” Again, this is not to disparage, but simply to point out how and why the band take their music more seriously than many of their peers: it’s an expression of deeply-held convictions, which deserves praise, if only in rebuke of more passionless contemporaries.
At just over half an hour, The Arteries of Heresy can’t really overstay its welcome, and it makes the best of its runtime to stake out a promising tract of black metal for Devouring Star. They have cleaned up the muddle of Through Heart and Lung, fine-tuned its metaphysical ruminations (I gather from interviews; lyrics are hard to come by), and incorporated the loftiness of their Antihedron EP into handsome black metal epics that don’t overreach their grasp or sell the band short. There is room to grow but plenty here to enjoy. On every level, The Arteries of Heresy is Devouring Star’s magnum opus--for the time being.
Listen/buy on Bandcamp
Corruption is the mission, mode, and method for Hissing on their debut full-length Permanent Destitution - the corruption of their home-state’s Cascadian black metal heritage, specifically, to whose hyperextended runtimes and fixation on odes to nature this record is a scabby, oozing middle finger. There is no room for beauty or dawdling here, no patience for fantasies that the world is anything but an amoral killing field. If misanthropia and revulsion are more your poison, drink up.
My first exposure to Hissing was their split with psychedelic noise artist Sutekh Hexen earlier this year, their nearly sixteen-minute contribution, “Deserted Veins,” slithering at the bottom of the howling, haunted well of Sutekh Hexen’s “Pareidolian.” In part and in whole, Hissing are toxic and oily, qualities apparent on that song but not quite as radioactively so as they are on Permanent Destitution, where an expanded runtime of nearly forty minutes sees them coiling up in a corner of the same squalid room where the self-mutilating fury of Lord Mantis and the deranged filth of Dendritic Arbor lie. Like the former, they have an innate grasp on how to clobber the listener with pure rhythm while also indulging in the textural affronts of the latter, crafting an impeccable half-hour of truly progressive death metal. Listen to how the kick drum slams through the layers of grime and frying-skin distortion coating “Backwards Descent,” and especially “Cascading Failure”; stay for the sneering dissonance of “Pablum Abundance” and for “It Without More,” whose segmented structure and twitchy transitions make for an inexplicably catchy song--though it’s less earworm than ear-millipede, burrowing, probing, and ultimately sickening in sound and execution.
While there are plenty of other stylistic references to be made--the specters of Demilich, Gorguts, and Portal loom large over Permanent Destitution--what’s accomplished here is not just an imitation of the past, but a mutation of it. There is a molten, seething originality here that could be the tip of something new surfacing from the murk: something slimy and granular, abusive and mysterious, rancid and galvanizing. Hissing’s music just doesn't sound human. From the first shuddering strains of “Backwards Descent,” the album sounds as if it’s in the process of sloughing off the illusion of “music” altogether to give form to something festering and ill. The dread of such a transformation finds its fullest expression as “Eulogy in Squalor” vomits itself to life amid corroded, half-melted riffs. There’s no shortage to Hissing’s unsavoriness, their appetite for ugliness indiscriminate: listen to how seamlessly they incorporate that squishy, oleaginous whine into the false ending of “Backwards Descent”; how “Eulogy in Squalor” wrenches itself out of all that buzzing malaise; how “Perdurance” bubbles and bloats and distends until it ceases to sound like metal at all, but the agonized bellow of something desperate to shuck off its own life.
Armed with a chasmic production style that emphasizes the depth of that kick drum and elevates the hornet-buzz of their guitarwork to Azathothian hum, Permanent Destitution manages to attain the grandeur of their Washington state black metal peers on Hissing’s terms and for Hissing’s purposes. No one performance uppends the others, and there is no showboating anywhere in these thirty-six minutes. Instead, Permanent Destitution is a systematic rejection of the placidly natural in favor of the insidiously unnatural, representing not tranquil, dewy glens but scorched and ash-blackened hardpan; not the pensive serenity of ancient forests, but the stunned violation of nuclear blast-zones; not transcendence and the affirmation of life, but the nervous chaos of meaningless survival. Permanent Destitution, and Hissing as a unit, is a monolith erected to disgust, towering high above any other death metal that’s debuted this year, if not in the last several years.
Let it consume you. It will anyway.
Listen and buy on Bandcamp
Originality is hardly the point of death metal. Its last era of meaningful progress was in the ’90s with concurrent scene booms on either side of the Atlantic, and it's been gnawing on its own tail ever since, most of its acclaimed acts (that weren’t already active at that time) impressing listeners with how closely they can reproduce the old sounds, down to the grime and murk of those low-budget early recordings. It’s not dissimilar from black metal’s fixation on all things trve-kvlt-necro.
But where bands like Horrendous, Chthe’ilist, and Blood Incantation (to take the tiniest cross-section of the current landscape) all evoke older models of the genre in their musical aesthetics and presentation, these and other modern death metal bands are loosening their ties and incorporating intelligent, modern songwriting to push the genre into unexplored territory, earning them, to varying degrees, the “progressive” tag. Horrendous can sound like Autopsy or Asphyx when they get into it; Chthe’ilist and a whole slew of others are disciples of the Gorguts/Demilich what-the-fuck school of metal; Blood Incantation throw it all the way back to Timeghoul and the genre’s other cock-eyed progenitors. All evoke without mimicry, taking inspiration without ransacking their favorite records for parts.
Bands like Gatecreeper, Scorched, and Outer Heaven, on the other hand, aren’t pushing any envelopes (at least not quite so obviously), yet should be considered part of this movement. Their take on death metal does two things that are just as important: it venerates the genre while also having as much fun as possible with it. That’s a trickier blend than it seems. I’m not really an Acid Witch/Nekrogoblikon/Cannabis Corpse kind of guy, because the joke too often gets the better of the music. But Gatecreeper revel in the sandbox Entombed and Dismember built. Scorched break heads with the hammers and hacksaws in Autopsy’s disposal bin. Outer Heaven, too, but they do it while also invoking the rhythms of hardcore--which isn’t to say there’s any blatant -core in Outer Heaven’s sound, because Realms of Eternal Decay is death metal through-and-through, from the goopy artwork to Jon Kunz and Zak Carter’s bludgeoning guitars to Austin Haines’s monstrous vocals. Even their lyrics (check their Bandcamp) look like lists of obscure death metal albums.
But these concise three-minute runtimes and the band’s pummeling sense of rhythm look hardcore to me, and you hear it--to more limited extents--on Sonoran Depravation and Ecliptic Butchery, too, how this new wave of death metal bands aren’t crusty dudes holed up in their basements, grimacing along to Slayer and Venom. They’re people who grew up appreciating death metal and hardcore equally, and are now in a position to practice the lessons of both. Everywhere you turn, there’s a molten riff oozing over tectonic blast beats and murky growls billowing from far below. Half-time sections abound, borrowing as much from doom as from hardcore--the transitions on opener “Vortex of Thought” and mid-album highlight “Bloodspire” are straight from the latter’s playbook, successfully mixing up the tempo without spilling an ounce of otherworldly fury, while “Pulsating Swarm” skirts closer to the former. From time to time, some tattered rag of melody will surface--see “Putrid Dwellings,” and maybe “Multicellular Savagery,” if bassist Raymond Figueroa’s freaky plunking counts as “melodic”--only to be sucked under and drowned by the next wave of filth. Somewhere underneath it all is a concept album about a violence-inducing slime mold that eradicates an entire planet, which is somehow both the most death metal and hardcore thing they could have written.
Just to allay any suspicions, this hardcore-flecked approach to death metal isn’t deathcore in the least. Neither does it quite fit in the OSDM revival box. Realms of Eternal Decay represents a moment of convergence for the genre, where the worship of the past, stuck in a loop since 2008 or so, has finally cycled around to align with the present day. It’s death metal that sounds like death metal as we’ve always known it, but it’s largely free of the “guess the reference” mentality that weighs down a lot of modern acts, the stew of influences finally distilled into something fresh and malleable. Outer Heaven are a strain of death metal that belongs entirely to the present, and for that reason alone, you should be listening.
Daughters- You Won’t Get What You Want
Stream and buy the LP here.
Daughters is a band with many faces. All their LPs have been drastically different from one another. Their debut record, Canada Songs, is 11 minutes of pure abrasive noisecore. Their sophomore, Hell Songs, embraced the more math side of them while beginning to show signs of a new direction on the horizon. It was on this LP that vocalist Alexis Marshall started showing off his unique vocal style, which has been appropriately described as that of a drunk wedding singer. Somehow, though, with the direction the group was going in, it all made sense. Things really started hitting the fan with their at-the-time posthumous self-titled record. This has to be one of the most divisive LPs ever made, and it’s understandable why. It is one of my favorite records of the decade, but it’s such a change of direction and, o the record, you can hear the members’ disagreements with each other. Continuing the theme of marriage, Daughters’ self-titled record very much feels like an intense, violent divorce. However, this divorce was short-lived. Daughters reformed three years later, and now, five years since then, we have a brand-new studio project from the group entitled You Won’t Get What You Want. I cannot think of a better name for a Daughters record.
The singles leading up to this record showcased Daughters at their most, well, Daughters. “Satan in the Wait” was a slow, dreary, 7-minute track, whereas “The Reason They Hate Me” was a super dancy punk track. With these two tracks, I knew You Won’t Get What You Want was going to be the Daughters record I would have wanted following up their self-titled after all these years. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was to open up with a full-on industrial noise track. I didn’t realize how much I wanted Daughters to open an LP up with a track like “City Song” until I first heard this record. This industrial style seems to reprise itself throughout the tracklist, from the very next song “Long Road, No Turns,” to the singles, up until the last moments of “Guest House.” While it made sense to me that they were going on tour with the likes of Street Sects (who I just reviewed here) and Echo Beds, it makes even more sense with this LP under their belt now.
The noisy industrial is just part of the blueprint. Outside of that connection, each of these tracks vary in style. Tracks like “The Flammable Man” and “The Guest House” show that Daughters have not abandoned their mathcore roots at all, with super hypnotic and chaotic instrumentals. Then there are tracks like “Less Sex” that are quite bluesy and moody, despite the harsh noise. These tracks have a very Swans-esque approach, especially on the two epics of the LP, “Satan in the Wait” and “Ocean Song,” which, rather than go through various styles, stay closely-knit with one and craft a track that becomes much more hypnotic as it progresses.
The drum work throughout You Won’t Get What You Want is the foundation of the entire record. Without it, none of the sounds you’re hearing would be able to be pulled off as nicely as they are. This switches from the authentic, chaotic drums found on tracks like “The Flammable Man” and “Guest House” to the electronic, smoother drums on tracks like “City Song” and “Less Sex.” The inclusion of these electronic drums especially enhances the record, and once again shows that Daughters is a band that, despite age, is keeping up with the modern influences. The guitars on this project also provide some nice influences, creating an eerie atmosphere on tracks like “Satan in the Wait” and then going to something super catchy and hyper on tracks like “The Reason They Hate Me.” You always have some serious hypnotic punky goodness all over the project, especially on “The Lord’s Song.” The bass could be utilized more, but really shows off a nice groove on “Less Sex” and “Ocean Song.”
Alexis Marshall has always been a vocalist of many voices, fit for a band of many faces. As seen in the earlier Daughters work like Canada Songs, as well as his side project Fucking Invincible, he can be one of the most chaotic in the hardcore punk game. With Daughters, he’s been exploring these very post-punk vocals that have been very accurately described on their self-titled as a “drunk Elvis Presley.” However, as he sings through these tracks, he sounds much more desperate and hopeless. He’s scared and depressed on You Won’t Get What You Want. Even on tracks like “The Reason They Hate Me,” when he sings the line “Don’t tell me how to do my fucking job,” he sounds more like he’s begging than angry. Then on tracks like “The Flammable Man” and “Less Sex,” we see him being paranoid, as if something is coming after him that only he can see. His lyrics on this LP are very repetitive, but not in an annoying way at all. His voice, alongside the atmosphere the instrumental crafts, effectively makes his words more hypnotic and captivating as the songs progress.
My problems with You Won’t Get What You Want is when Daughters seems to play it more safely, ironically. Not necessarily as in providing elements from their previous work, but rather when tracks like “Long Road, No Turns” and “Daughter” play off of what the predecessor set for them. They’re pretty decent tracks on their own, but on an LP that’s full of original tracks that somehow find themselves making sense with each other, when these songs come on and just play off the respective tracks before them, it feels a bit weird. I feel like, in any other case, this wouldn’t be an issue, but on this particular record it just seems out of focus.
You Won’t Get What You Want is a comeback record done right. Daughters aren't here to live off of their previous works’ success. Their message has always been to push their musical boundaries to the absolute limit, and they did exactly that on this new record. It’s absolutely fresh, chaotic, anxious, and most of all, genius. This record will be another one that’s quite divisive amongst the fans, so check it out and be part of the discussion.
VERDICT: You Won’t Get What You Want is everything I want from a Daughters record in 2018.
- Alex Brown
Thirty Nights of Violence - To Die In Your Portrait
Favorite Track: “Frontal Cortex”
Release on 10/26/18 via Unbeaten Records
Title Track (Single) Soundcloud Stream
Nashville is among the top places for hardcore/metalcore currently, with bands like Hanging Moon, Orthodox, Chamber, and now Thirty Nights of Violence stepping up to the plate. They’ve delivered a slew of entertaining live shows and albums over the past few years, and their debut EP To Die In Your Portrait is truly a work of art, showing that they belong destroying venues. There is absolutely no reason for this band to fly under your radar if you follow the more underground metalcore/hardcore scenes.
Metalcore has become so dependent on mosh riffs that I expected another round of crunchy panic chords and insane breakdowns from this record. To my surprise, To Die In Your Portrait is groovy, and even soothing, throwing it back to the days of OG metalcore while still providing those modern, aggressive instrumentals we’ve come to expect of Nashville. Thirty Nights seem to pull off those patterns better than I’ve heard in awhile.
“Frontal Cortex” is really gives you a sense of what’s on the table. It’s Poison The Well in 2018, with a harmonic, ambient section about a minute into the track deftly transitioning into a crushing guitar passage, proving Thirty Nights knows what they are doing. That To Die In Your Portrait is a debut blows me away. It sounds as if this band has been playing together for years - since the late 90’s or early ’00’s, perhaps.
“To Die In Your Portrait” holds its own as the only single the band dropped ahead of release. It’s pure bliss 54 seconds in, drawing similarities to Terrors Realm by Vein and Bless The Martyr era Norma Jean. Zach Wilbourn (Vocals, and also a member of A Needle Under The Nail) showcases a ton of range all over this EP, best heard between this song and “Apathy in Greyscale.”
“Separate” is the EP’s outro, which is fitting, because by the end of the track you’ll be pining for more. It some of my favorite instrumental work here. One riff toward the end sounds ripped straight out of Avenged Sevenfold’s Waking The Fallen, just before it drops it to tug your heartstrings. Ethan Young (Drums) Kelly Cook (Guitar) & James Chatman (Guitar) are borderline-virtuosic metalcore musicians. You need mosh parts? You got it. You want to feel things? You got it. That combo put together with a bass line from Jake Chestnut + supporting vocals at sections to wombo combo Zach with Ethan, really makes for a beautiful match made in metalcore heaven.
Thirty Nights of Violence is one of my favorite new bands this year. Nashville metalcore is not to be taken for granted. I don’t know what’s in the water, but it’s breeding some insanely talented musicians.
God Program - Fragments of Illusion
Listen and buy on their bandcamp
With Fragments of Illusion, God Program are proving to be one of the finest bands in the Northeast right now.
You know, with this whole metalcore revival going on right now, Connecticut hasn’t been getting the attention that it deserves. I’m not just saying that because I and three of the five writers for this blog are from Connecticut, either. Bands like Cast in Blood, Atonement, and bleed, to name just a few, have all put out quality releases that have kept the mosh going in Connecticut and yet not nearly with the recognition of places like Long Island or Philadelphia. God Program is no different from these other bands.
Since the metalcore revival is, well, a revival, God Program, like many of the other bands at the forefront of the movement, take heavy inspiration from late 90’s and 00’s metalcore, specifically bands like Poison the Well and From Autumn to Ashes, and it shows from the onset. Dissonant, yet melodic chord progressions and riffs are the backbone of this record, something that is evident in songs like “Dostoevsky vs The Long Island Sound,” which opens with strummed-then-chugged riff that goes into a riff that sounds right at home on The Opposite of December; there’s a good amount of “core” too, with said riff evolving into a two-step.
God Program aren’t just Poison the Well and breakdowns, either. The strongest songs on Fragments of Illusions are, without a doubt, the final two songs, “Scorpio Rising” and “Empty Words, Empty Hands.” The former is an acoustic track, with strummed chords as a foundation for some frankly beautiful singing. This leads into the latter, which is an exercise in early 00’s metalcore done right: vicious vocals, a soaring hook, and even the metalcore riff (you know exactly which one I’m referring to) to open the song. It’s equal parts mosh and emotion, which is a quality that many bands have tried to achieve but failed.
While the riffs and song structures are done well, the high-point of the EP - and of the band as a whole - are the vocals. The screams here are, as said before, absolutely vicious. Throughout the entire release it feels as if the vocalist is literally shredding her larynx, which only adds to the somber, angry lyrics. The clean vocals are also done well, adding to the melody of the songs without coming off overdone or as a crutch. Throw in some ghastly backing vocals, especially on “Empty Words, Empty Hands”, and this is the whole package for anyone looking for high-quality metalcore. I should note that the vocals are a tiny bit low in the mix, but since they stand out so much, it doesn’t hurt the record very much at all.
In all, God Program are metalcore in 2018. If you enjoy anything off of the 2003 Ferret Records roster, you should absolutely check this out.
FFO: Poison the Well, From Autumn to Ashes, open hand moshing.
Street Sects have quickly become one of my favorite modern music acts. Forming in 2013, they released their two Gentrification EPs the following year. Two years later, we got their explosive debut LP, End Position. This record is nothing short of an incredible piece of industrial music, with all the intensity and passion one could want. Last year, they dropped Rat Jacket, for which I wrote a very positive review here. This EP took a smoother, more melodic approach to things, which I thought worked better for them. They’ve since put out a two-song EP and two splits, one with up-and-coming skramz act Portrayal of Guilt and the other with Curse. All of these songs showed a stronger artistic drive within Street Sects, especially the depressively gorgeous “Things Will Be Better in Hell.” It left me starving for new material. Back in August, they announced they would be releasing their sophomore full length The Kicking Mule, and the good people at The Flenser have provided us early access to the LP. I cannot thank them enough.
Rat Jacket showed that Street Sects weren’t going to be as intense or abrasive as on End Position. Each single between then and now has prepared listeners for a change in sound, finally realized here on The Kicking Mule, to a depressive post-punk approach. Street Sects has never been a very happy-go-lucky act, but things are different now. There are still elements from End Position, especially on the introduction track, “269 Soulmates,” which incorporates much of that projects harsh elements. However, we get some new melodic moments in the chorus. “Suicide by Cop” and “Still Between Lovers” straddle the line between End Position and Rat Jacket, but tracks like “Chasing the Vig” and even “Dial Down the Neon” shocked me in how much they differ from the previous works instrumentally while still doing their core sound justice.
One of the most noticeable adjustments to Street Sects sound is an increased guitar presence. It's especially gorgeous on “Birch Meadows, 1991,” mellow and somber, in keeping with this record’s atmosphere. It picks up speed on “Still Between Lovers,” but its mostly there to add more color to Street Sects’s industrial palette.
I’ve always loved Leo's vocals, and here is no exception: he is varied and passionate, his best work on “Everyone’s at Home Eventually” and “In for a World of Hurt.” His performance was the first thing I really enjoyed about the track when it dropped. “Before it Was Worn” explores his versatility as he builds from his more somber, post-punk style to harsher vocals that recall End Position.
The lyrics, to put it lightly, are super depressing. Street Sects’s are known to sit on the more fucked up side of things, but The Kicking Mule sees them burrow down to the depressing hopelessness that's always lurked behind Street Sects. “269 Soulmates” orders the listener to “Stick it in your vein and don’t think twice about it.” Addiction plays an even more prominent role on this record than ever before. “Everyone’s at Home Eventually” looks back on a life of alcoholism with tangible pain: “Up until I fell down on my fears/Fell down, for fifteen years/I know I wasted half my life drunk on doubt/and now I’ll do without.” Other tracks like “Suicide by Cop” are even blunter and purposely upsetting. See: “I used to think/I’d change your mind/I used to think/You’d save my life/I won’t be missed/I won’t be mourned.”
The LP climaxes with “The Drifter,” a gloomy, catchy, and melodic condensation of all The Kicking Mule does best. Instead of repeating the confrontational tone of End Position’s “If This What Passes for Living” or the epic post-punk of Rat Jackets “In Prison, At Least I Had You,” they opt for a more a straightforward electronic track. Leo sings of a man who’s come to the end of the road, confessing that he's “a worthless piece of shit” and pleading to be buried alive. And it just wouldn’t be a Street Sects record if they didn't include the perspective of a murderer in his final moments of life - in this case, content and unremorseful, even nostalgic, for his life of homicide: “I enjoyed those final moments/When the light would leave their eyes/I would do it all over again.”
If you got lucky with the preorders, you managed to score a copy of The Kicking Mule that comes with a short story Leo wrote to accompany the LP, titled “Black Plastic, White Sheep.” The story follows the protagonist of The Kicking Mule, a detective, and introduces two plot lines: one involving a case, and the other his family life. It's a good read and lends the record an even darker and more twisted context.
Once again, Street Sects stake their claim as one of the most interesting acts in modern music. Personally, I would’ve liked something a bit longer to flesh out the story, because it’s clear that Street Sects have both the musical skill and writing chops to craft a beautifully fucked-up story. The Kicking Mule drops October 26th on The Flenser, and it definitely should not escape your notice.
VERDICT: Street Sects progresses in a surprisingly post-punk direction with their latest ode to all things fucked-up and depressing, continuing to prove their worth as serious musicians.
- Alex Brown
ANLMA- Secular Eden
Secular Eden is coming soon.
In 2012, a progressive metal act formed from the ashes of New York local metalcore outfit We Are Outnumbered. This band was Perspectives, and while they were metalcore through-and-through, their new prog-metal twist showed quite some promise. Over the next few years, they would tighten up their songwriting and change their name again to ANLMA to signify their evolution. This led to the release of their debut EP, Pilot, on New Year's Day in 2016. ANLMA proved that they were one of the stronger acts to come out of the recent progressive metal scene, with a good mix of the more extreme prog of Opeth and Meshuggah and the nicer, cleaner side of things found in Periphery and The Contortionist’s more recent catalogue. Songs like “Kaiju” and “Damnation” remain some of my favorite progressive metal songs of this decade. Of course, there were things that I felt the band needed to work on, but I could see these guys having a very bright future. It’s been nearly three years since, and the group has come back with a brand new concept LP, Secular Eden.
Secular Eden looks into the the process of inhabiting a new world, and the greed that eventually leads to its demise. Right from the first track, “Sentience,” we see the first red flag: the notion that an individual can become God. ANLMA’s characters are always trying to prove that they are the best at what they do. The first lyric of “Alpha Collective” is literally “We are the dominant species,” a sentiment reevaluated on “Grand Inheritance”: “It seems we are not the elite...We thought ourselves to be/All-powerful/Ever-knowing/But now that we are brought to our knees/We crawl at the mercy of…” “Jormungandr” denotes the first steps towards destruction, continually building until the grand finale, when the cost of playing God finally comes to collect, and the world pays.
Sonically, Secular Eden is a breath of fresh air for progressive metal. In a genre that has done everything but progress recently, ANLMA bring a variety of influences to the tracklist. The Pilot EP wore its The Contortionist and The Faceless fandom a little too obviously, but while it’s still noticeable (“Grand Inheritance” takes a very Opeth approach to its acoustics), the song takes a few original turns, becoming more ANLMA than hero worship. Their metalcore roots poke through on “Jormungandr,” and even parts of “Grand Inheritance” in the form of a gnarly breakdown and a guest feature from Peter Rono (Kaonashi.) We also have some pretty jumpy, hyperactive songs like the lead single, “Alpha Collective,” and “The Augury.”
The guitar work, handled by Antonio d’Aquino and Julian Barahona, is always precise, well-constructed, and varied. They can go from playing intense and heavy on “Jormungandr” to sweet and delicate. “Alpha Collective” finds a fitting instrumental match to its euphoric lyrics, and its emotional contrast with “Grand Inheritance” feels natural. There’s a nice groove on this track provided by bassist Dario Baez, which is something I wish mined a little more. Technical metal has a tendency to push the bass guitar to the back, which is unfortunate considering the quality work of most prog-metal bassists. But when this LP settles into its softer, groovier moments, you get a nice peek at Baez’s fantastic performance.
The drum work on Secular Eden is absolutely monstrous. Claudel Meja has had a busy three years between Pilot and working on emo act GaL’s What We’ve Lost. Now on Secular Eden, we see his best work to date. His sense of rhythm on “Jormungandr,” once again, is impeccable, giving the song real teeth. He’s at his best on the proggier tracks such as “Desistance,” where he carries the track through all its different phases, affirming his indispensable role in ANLMA’s sound. His drums sound more natural and hard-hitting on this album as opposed to the electronic drums found on their previous EP, allowing him to explore interesting new textures and beats.
Vocally, ANLMA has upped their game immensely. Sekou Joshua’s vocals on this record are nothing short of some of the most passionate harsh vocals I’ve heard in recent progressive metal, varying from insane lows to gnarly hardcore-style vocals to wild screams. He means every word. Contrasting his performance is Antonio d’Aquino, who has grown more comfortable in his spot as clean vocalist, willing to test out less formulaic patterns and explore his own voice. “Alpha Collective” showcases a beautiful counterpoint between Joshua’s harsh vocals and d’Aquino’s lovely singing. They get quite creepy at points, too, especially on the softer parts of “Desistance,” where he sings lines like “It’s far too cold for nostalgia/To ever awaken now/So please let me sleep with all/My warmest memories” in an eerie, somber tone that sends chills down my spine. They come across far more relaxed and organic than on Pilot, which felt rushed at times.
Secular Eden just feels natural, a totally unforced evolution of the sound ANLMA have been perfecting over the years. This isn’t to say it doesn’t have its issues. The album is designed as a front-to-back listen, which makes it hard to pick out the strengths of individual tracks. Furthermore, I’d only really listen to “Sentience” and “The Augury” on one of these full-album listens. About a half-hour into the project, you realize there’s only the title-track left: an almost seventeen-minute-long behemoth that serves as a conclusion to Secular Eden’s apocalyptic sci-fi odyssey. It’s broken into four parts: “Second Awakening,” “Visions,” “Road to Purgatory,” and “Judgement and Deliverance.”
The first part plays out like a typical ANLMA track: relatively proggy, strong Between the Buried and Me vibes, with a melodic bit part for Antonio to do his thing. An instrumental passage leads into a breakdown to announce “Visions,” featuring a gnarly verse from Andy Reynolds (Shame Spiral) that, in turn, leads into a beautifully-constructed tearjerker chorus. An acoustic break guides us into the gentle “Road to Purgatory.” d’Aquino’s voice builds us toward what is arguably my favorite breakdown of 2018, a panic-chord infested good time that recalls Bless the Martyr-era Norma Jean in its destructive power, signifying the end of the world (for those following the album concept). The final chorus kicks in, plaintively asking, “Will we ever learn?” “Secular Eden” (and Secular Eden) ends with a last breakdown, and the song promptly joins Periphery’s “Racecar” and Between the Buried and Me’s “Silent Flight Parliament” in the league of incredible progressive metal album closers of the '10s. It’s really the only way it could have ended.
In 48 minutes, Secular Eden teaches us the folly of playing God and shows us we have much to learn about our world before we move off the planet to repeat the mistakes we made here. Incidentally, ANLMA also offer us one of the strongest progressive metal albums of the ’10s. You’ll get something out of this record whether you’re into heavy breakdowns or more technical, progressive flavors. I don't know when this record will drop, but when it does, it will be worth the wait.
VERDICT: Secular Eden has everything a progressive metal concept album should in 2018: a strong story and a powerful message performed by passionate, honest musicians.
- Alex Brown
AYO WHATS UP IT’S BEEN A MINUTE HUH. I’M SURE YALL’RE WONDERING THE SAME THING: “OH JEEZ I WONDER WHAT BAND I KIND OF LIKE THIS WALKING ROCK BAND GREATEST HITS MIXTAPE IS GOING TO MAKE FUN OF TODAY?”
LMAO IT’S MY OWN BAND LOL.
FOR THE LIKE 3 OF YOU THAT READ THESE AND DON’T KNOW ME PERSONALLY I’M IN A BAND BECAUSE OF COURSE I AM I HAVE REALLY SEVERE OPINIONS ON THINGS THAT DON’T FUCKING MATTER AT ALL AND I’M 24 AND HAVE A NOSE RING STILL.
ANYWAYS MY BAND AND I HAVE A NEW THING COMING OUT SOON AND FIGURED IT’S TIME TO PLUG AWAY.
SINCE I THINK IT’S LAME WHEN LOCAL BANDS MAKE AD CAMPAIGNS FOR A BANDCAMP ALBUM THAT’LL GET MAYBE 55 PLAYS MAX AND THE LAST REMAINING SHRED OF SHAME I HAVE LEFT HAS MANIFESTED ITSELF AS MY RULE FOR NOT POSTING ABOUT MY BAND UNLESS WE HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER, I FIGURED THE NEXT BEST THING WOULD BE TO HAVE A QUASI-NEPOTISTIC PLUG ON A WEBSITE I DON’T TECHNICALLY WRITE FOR BUT I DEFINITELY GENERATE SOME TRAFFIC FOR, YA DIG. BESIDES WE ALREADY DID SOMETHING LIKE THIS WITH OUR LAST RECORD WHERE Y’ALL PUT IT IN FRONT OF A SPACE BACKGROUND FOR SOME REASON (I’M SERIOUS), I FIGURED “FUCK IT SURE WHY NOT” WHICH IS THE EXACT RESPONSE BRIAN HAD WHEN I PITCHED THE IDEA OF INTERVIEWING MY OWN BAND USING A SERIES OF QUORA QUESTIONS I FOUND THAT HAD A BUNCH OF DOWNVOTES AND SOMEONE QUOTING IT AS BEING “INSULTING” QUESTIONS TO ASK A BAND AS THE BASIS OF AN ARTICLE.
THE FOLLOWING IS A TRANSCRIBED VERSION OF HOW THAT WENT OVER. SOME THINGS HAVE BEEN MOVED AROUND FOR THE SAKE OF CONTINUITY, SOME THINGS WERE ADDED AFTER THE FACT JUST TO HAVE A CLEAR ANSWER, BUT THIS IS WHAT WENT DOWN. IMMA HAVE TO TAKE MY CAPSLOCK OFF (RIP) FOR THE SAKE OF Y’ALL BEING ABLE TO READ THIS WITHOUT YOUR EYES BLEEDING.
Scene: The warehouse in Bethany, Connecticut where we practice. The squatter on the top floor is making loud noises trying to get us to be quiet. He’s a dickhead. My bandmates, Sean Walsh (bass) and Mark “Marco” Carotenuto (drums, vocals) are ranting about some fucking mozzarella pasta salad Mark brought with him from Whole Foods. It’s almost one in the morning, a dampness is in the air as we gather around my iPhone. Mark is also, as he often colloquially says, “baked ziti.”
Mark takes a bite of the salad. “Yo tell me this is not blazing. This shit is balazinggg yupppp, with the sauce.” Sean interjects: “The sauce is so good. The sauce yo.” This is the 6th time they’ve brought up the pasta salad since I started recording 47 seconds ago. Mark takes a piece of cheese between his fingers and for some reason begins to sing, “Hold up I’m gonna eat the cheese.” Sean nods in agreement. We begin to argue about whether mayonnaise is good or not (it’s not). We are almost 3 minutes into my recording when we eventually compose ourselves enough to look at the first question.
Step 1*What's the name of your band? What's the origin of that name? Have you changed the band's name before?
MT: Wow, this is a strong one to start with.
SW: The answer to all three is “yes.”
Mark and Sean begin to go through the salad again. Mark pulls a piece of basil from the tub “Yo is this arugula?” he asks.
MC: Wait, what’s the question?
MT: “What’s the name of your band?”
MC: (excitedly) Oh! Lucretia!
MT: I got the name by going through Wikipedia on “random article” when I was like 16. I remember reading about her, the classical/mythological Roman figure of Lucretia--
Mark interrupts me to say “this is so good” before eating more of his salad.
--and thinking, “Oh wow, that’s fucked up. ‘Lucretia’ would be an absolutely awful name for a metal band,” and I just stuck with it.
Step 2*Please list the name, age, school, and respective instrument of each band member.
Mark looks up in genuine confusion.
MC: What’s the question?
MT: (laughing) “What’s your name, you fucking idiot?”
MC: Mark! Marco!
MT: They want the name of the band and the name of the you.
MC: Lucretia, Marco 😊.
SW: I’m Sean, Lord of the Low-End.
MT: Age? We’re all 24, we graduated high school together. Go Gaels Shelton High Forever.
SW: What’s the other question? School?
MT: I guess it’s for kids. Next question was “what’s your respective instrument?”
MC: Guitar! (Mark is a guitar player by trade).
MT: That’s not what respective mea-
MC: DRUMS! They call me bambam.
SW: Bass, but I really just do feedback.
MT: I play guitar and do vocals. I go weeenee and then I go dgugguauaug.
MC: This is stupid. Next question.
Step 3*What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
SW: I consider our genre...tolerable?
MT: A friend of ours once said we were crust punk for people that shop at Hot Topic.
SW: I’m influenced by Franz List. We’re New Age.
MC: Yeah we’re New Age.
MT: The New Age of Riffs.
MC: No. Just New Age.
MT: As for influences for the band? Converge, Coalesce, Glassjaw, Guns ’N’ Roses. Shit like that. Personally, my biggest influence with anything music related is The Chariot. Guitar-wise, it’s like Jim Root and Mick Thomson (Slipknot), Kurt Ballou (Converge), Michael Mason (Gaza, Cult Leader). Also Tim Collis from This Town Needs Guns, and the guys in Six Gallery, but it doesn’t show a lot with Lucretia. I also really like Code Orange Kids and ripping off anything Andy Hull has done (Manchester Orchestra, Right Away Great Captain).
SW: Our influences are drinking beer.
SW: Scoring. And this pasta salad.
MC: Steven Adler.
MT: Anyone besides Adler?
MC: That’s it. Just Adler.
MT: Lil Addlerall.
Mark loses his shit due to this joke about a soundcloud rapper having the name “Steven Addlerall.” Mark and Sean then started talking about how good the pasta salad was for another minute. The day after we did this, I texted them asking what their actual influences are. Here are their texts verbatim:
SW: I dont know I never had an influence besides curiosity and experimenting. If i had to pick a bassist who influenced me I’d say either geezer butler of black sabbath or the boi kc wolf [of The Chariot]. As of recently my inspiration has been through either takeshi of boris or various noise artists.
MC: (In response to my text “besides Matt Bruso [Vocalist, Bury Your Dead] and Steven Adler [Drummer, Guns ’N’ Roses] what are your influences for drumming and vocals”): Idk man lol disclose?
Step 4*How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
MT: Too fucking long.
Everyone voices agreement.
MT: I’ve known Mark since the first day of kindergarten. My mom was like “make a friend” and I saw Mark and thought, “Oh that kid looks like a dork. ‘Hey you like Kabutops? Ight. Bet. Let’s get it’.” I think Sean and I met in 7th or 8th grade.
SW: Yeah, that’s about right, I’d say.
MT: I was fat and Sean had weird hair so we had to get along.
MC: Sean, I don’t remember when we met.
SW: We were in the same cluster in 7th grade.
SW: Yeah, you were in my group when we went to Lake Compounce. It sucked.
MC: Lake Compounce sucks dude.
He holds up the tub with the pasta salad.
You want a sip of this?
Step 5*When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
MT: We started in like 2010ish. I was in another band with Tony [Goncalves, Lucretia’s original vocalist, who quit the band in early 2018]. Everyone quit except for me and him, which is pretty ironic to think about now.
Everyone laughs for longer than that joke deserved.
MC: (Leaving the interview to go to the bathroom) You know why I came in.
We needed someone to play drums and Mark felt bad for us and owned a drum set. Both of which are also ironic now.
MT: Then we broke up for a while when I went to college. We decided to get back together in like 2015, but our original bass player stopped showing interest so we asked Sean to come in
Sean was originally in another band, Blackthorns, but would sometimes fill in.
MT: I remember calling him like, “hey, Sean, wanna be in the Kreesh?” and I heard him stop his car and in a super-serious voice just say, “yes.”
SW: I was in New Haven, I was about to get tacos. I was like (somberly) “yes.”
MC: Yo I’m just throwing this out there, Alessandro [Maione, Sheltonite, friend of the band, Avant-Garde artist/musician] got it in motion. I was with him at our friend Lianne’s house and he convinced me to do it.
MT: Yeah, I remember dude, I was there.
MC: No you weren’t.
MT: Dude, I drove you.
MC: No you didn’t.
MT: Maybe I drove Alessandro. I was there though.
MC: Okay, then what did he give me in exchange for the Lucretia reunion?
MT: A cigarette.
MC: …okay maybe you were there.
Step 6*Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations?
Everyone laughs. Sean refers to us as being part of “Crunch House, LLC.”
Step 7*What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever's available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference?
MC: I don’t own a fucking drum kit.
SW: I’ve been using the same bass (a Squier P Bass) for like 12 years.
MT: I’m left-handed so I take what I can get. I like the ESP (an LTD TE-200) I use ’cause it kind of looks like Jim Root’s Telecaster. Originally, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a singer like Corey Taylor or something, but I can’t sing so I settled with guitar. I don’t give a shit about guitar honestly.
MC: (referring to his salad) I wish I had more of the basil.
MT: Mark has literally texted me 10 minutes before we play asking whose drum kit he’s using for a show.
MC: You want Mark, you get Mark.
MT: Sean, what made you decide “The bass. That’s the one for me?”
SW: Oh, Jim (his next door neighbor) said he needed a bass player and I was like “Oh yeah, I play bass.” I didn’t have one or anything.
MC: Next question.
Step 8*Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Everyone immediately says “Crunch House” as a favorite venue at the same time.
MT: Least favorite? Probably that VFW in Thomaston.
MC: What the fuck was that?
SW: The one with The Crooked Sound?
MT: Yeah I didn’t like that place.
SW: What’s the worst place that we played?
MT: The Cave has good sound but that show we played was kinda dumb.
We played a 4 band bill there where tickets cost $15. One person paid to get in.
SW: Yeah, that sucked.
MT: The Cave is actually a good venue; I like it as a spot, but that show we played was just too much.
SW: I also was, like, dying from a fever, so that sucked.
MC: Yeah, I hated that night .
MT: Tuxedo Junction was pretty bad from the one time we played there when we were like 17, but it’s been out.
SW: I played the Room once and I hated it.
MT: We got banned from the Space in like 2012.
Step 9*Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set playlist?
SW: All of them.
MT: Doomy (“Untitled”/Rat Song).
MC: Our entire set dumbass.
SW: (referring to the salad): Yo, is that a pepper?
MC: What’s the other question? What covers do we play?
Mark begins chanting “Entombed, Entombed” in reference to us frequently covering “Wolverine Blues.”
MT: We did Guns ’N’ Roses, “It’s So Easy” once. “Roots Bloody Roots.”
SW: (referencing 2012 Lucretia): Vanessa Carlton, “A Thousand Miles.”
MT: Yo, back in the day with Vanessy.
MC: Getting stressy with Vanessy.
MT: We were gonna do a The Locust cover but never did.
MC: Yeah dude, it was hard.
Step 10*Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
MT: I’d say I probably write like, 50%-75% of it?
SW: Chris Cornell (Lucretia’s long time recording engineer/producer) ghostwrites our songs. He was in Soundgarden.
MT: It’s collaborative. I’ll have an idea for something and I’ll bring it in to hash out. Normally, I’ll get stuck on a riff, and we’ll draw something out of the air together that works. I try not to get too set in stone about how things sound.
SW: Mark comes in with that boom-boom and I hit ya with the strummy-strum.
MC: Bam bam bam.
MT: As for themes? I used to just write abstract things about being lost or sad and interject it with extremely blunt and direct lines, but I’ve made the conscious decision to stop writing lyrics about being a solipsistic cur about halfway through this EP’s writing period.
MC: I don’t know what that means .
MT: *metalcore voice* Wah. I’m sad. No one’s ever felt sad besides me! Grr.
MT: Sometimes I write lyrics with just stream of conscious nonsense. “Saul Hudson” off the new record was written on my iPhone while watching a YouTube video waiting for my girlfriend to finish getting ready for the day.
SW: You write lyrics for people who write the cool “S.”
MC: (Pointing to himself): Yuuup.
SW: You can’t write the cool S, Mark.
MC: Oh I thought you were saying Coalesce. (Laughing) For real, I thought you were talking about the band.
MT: I do love Coalesce.
MC: No, you know how no one says their name the same way? I thought it was that.
MT: WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME.
MC: No I get it, the cool S.
MT: SOME SORT OF APOLOGY.
SW: Coalesce should change their name to “Cool S.”
Step 11*Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
MT: That was the last question?
MC: No, “what’s the music-making process”?
SW: When Mark and Michael love each other very much.
SW: Lovechild Sean.
MT: Sometimes I’ll just walk around mouthing chugs.
SW: I can be off-time and Chris will fix it.
MC: (attempting to be serious for the first time in this interview that’s been going on for 20 minutes) I would say the process goes like, Mike comes in with an idea. And we (pausing) make it happen, you know? We uhh…you know.
SW: Then we crack the Liberty Bell.
MT: We crack the eggs to make an omelette. I’m the eggs but you guys are the accoutrements .
MC: Yeah, I’m like getting some onions, a little peppers.
SW: The smoked mozzarella from that salad.
MC: So good, dude. That mayo sauce.
MT: Mayonnaise is fucking gross, dude.
SW: Get the fuck out of here.
MT: We basically just make a really good omelette and then some kid with a top-knot comes up to us and is like, “yeah, I don’t like eggs,” but like, we didn’t make it for you, dork.
SW: Mayonnaise makes anything good.
MT: We also record instruments live. It’s easier for us and we’re better at reading each other than we are at playing consistently to a click track. We’ll record guitar, bass ,and drums live and then I’ll add a second guitar; sometimes for parts I’ll add a third with something stupid, like an HM-2 and a fuzz or something. We also usually spend more time getting feedback sounds than we do on recording vocals and shit.
Step 12*What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
MT: It’s always at like, 11:00 p.m. at this warehouse in Bethany.
SW: It’s spontaneous, I guess.
MT: Here’s how the rehearsal system goes: I message the group-chat, “hey you wanna practice this week?” No one responds. Like 4 hours later, Mark will send me a message outside the group-chat like, “so whats good? we practicing tonight?” Then I ask Sean in another message outside the group-chat if he can, and like five hours after, he’s like “sure”. Then I ask the guy who runs the practice spot if it’s open that night and he says “No,” and we do it all over again.
Step 13*How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
MC: That’s a stupid question.
SW: We’re not fucking teenagers.
MC: That’s a stupid-ass question.
MT: There’s more than two riffs to a song now.
SW: We could have just taken a Buzzfeed quiz at this point.
MT: “What kind of pasta are you?”
SW: That pasta salad.
MC: The sauce dude, it’s so good.
SW: The smoked mozzarella .
MC: It’s a real underdog, you know? No one knows it’s there but it’s fire.
SW: The sauce.
MC: We sippin’ the sauce.
They continue talking about the pasta salad for another minute.
Step 14*What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
SW: Finding a time to rehearse.
MT: Losing members, arguing about how things are done.
SW: Getting a drum kit for each show.
MT: Every band we’re friends with breaking up so we can’t use their stuff.
MC: “Hey man, great set, can I use your kit?”
Step 15*What's your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
MT: My only real goal was to open for Cult Leader but The Webster won’t answer my emails.
MC: I want us to be remembered as not sucking.
SW: I want Connecticut to know we score.
MT: I just want to continue the trajectory we’ve had, with every time we release a new thing, a kid I barely know DMs me to be like, “hey dude, sick song, I like it better than your other stuff.”
SW: Be like “no shit.”
Step 16*What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
(Everyone in unison): DON’T.
SW: Imagine if we didn’t do this.
MT: Imagine if we like, liked sports or some shit. Everything would have been so much easier and cheaper.
SW: Imagine if I was athletic .
MT: Come through with the fucking DUNKS.
SW: Like that Lithuanian basketball jersey
MT: The one The Grateful Dead made.
Step 17*How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
MT: We have a Bandcamp.
SW: Name your own price.
MT: We also have a Spotify, but it’s needlessly expensive and like 80% of our listens are on Bandcamp anyway, so I’ll probably deactivate it by the end of the year.
Step 18*Is there anyone you'd like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?
MT: Yeah, my aunt Eileen, who funded half of everything I’ve ever done in my life. She helped pay for a lot of our early stuff when we were kids; equipment, recordings. She also is the only person who’s bought the same shirt from us twice. Shoutout Eileen, I love you.
MC: My old boss Emilio.
MT: I guess this is just shoutout corner. Shoutout the Bethany Underground.
SW: Shoutouts to Chris Cornell for being the world’s most patient man.
MT: Shoutouts to Prologues.
MC: Brandon Antoniak’s drum kit.
MT: Kidnapped, Boot Rot. Shoutout Liam Fozzaluzzalazzaazlalaza’s drum kit.
MC: Shoutout to anyone in Connecticut with a drum set, because we’re going to use it. Shoutout to the boy Joe for giving me a set that I never used.
SW: Shoutout to Joe for being the only person to want a Blackthorns reunion.
MT: That’s not true dude, I’m down. I’ll do Adam’s parts.
Step 19*Any last words?
MC: Dokken does not suck.
SW: Wimps and posers leave the hall.
MT: Free Bobby.
SW: We score.
MT: I guess we should talk about the record.
MC: Oh yeah. I thought we we’re gonna talk about like, beating off to the bridge in “Rocket Queen.” But yeah, on a serious note, the new record is cool.
MT: Yeah so our new record, 41.3165° N, 73.0932° W (Blindly I Reach O’ Lord), is coming out pretty soon. It’s the least heavy thing we’ve done, which I find interesting.
MC: It’s still heavy.
MT: Yeah, it’s good, I just think it’s interesting that we found ourselves leaning less towards metal on it.
MC: We write what we write.
SW: I think it’s the coolest thing we’ve written.
MC: Fuck it, you know?
SW: Say what you need to say.
MT: John Mayer rules.
MC: When you type this, are you gonna type my parts like how I text?
MT: Like without using half the keyboard?
MC: You know like, proper grammar but like “wyd?”
Half of Mark’s messages to me asking to hang out is just “wyd”.
SW: That’s proper grammar.
MC: Record’s killer though, seriously.
MT: Yeah, you’ll like it.
SW: We score.
At this point we dissolved into discussing what the rules were for being Lucretia. We came to the conclusion that the only rules were:
1.) Free Bobby Shmurda
2.) Beating off to the bridge in “Rocket Queen”
3.) Hating Ronald Reagan
4.) Being able to recite the ending speech Rambo gives in “First Blood”
5.) Being cool and Scoring
7.) Rock ’N’ Roll Nightmare
Upon our decision regarding “First Blood,” Mark broke out into the exact monologue, word for word, which he had memorized years ago, throwing drumsticks like a prop gun and collapsing on the floor during the line that Stallone did. When he finished he announced that he was overdue for an Emmy. He told me to shut up when I brought up that Emmys were for TV, and he was thinking of an Oscar. As we realized we had come to an end, I noticed a slight change in Mark and Sean’s dispositions. Initially, I thought it was a sadness. I couldn’t tell what brought it on, but then I noticed something. The inside of the salad tub was empty. They had nothing left to take.
New Record Out Soon Dweeb.