It Dies Today - Forever Scorned (2002)
Forever Scorned is heavy. That’s about all there is to it, but “heavy” can be so much in the right hands. At least for one record, It Dies Today had the touch. They never rediscovered what inspired metalcore grenades like “Sentiments of You” and “Bloodstained Bed Sheet Burden,” but that’s what makes Forever Scorned so worth revisiting when The Caitiff Choir doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you just need to hear the way “Sentiments of You” builds up to that first, clobbering riff and the way Nick Brooks seems to really mean it when he says he’s lost his head over a breakdown that sounds like it’s taken heads before.
Is that hyperbolic? I suppose, but that’s par for the course for an album entrenched in the sounds and moods of early 00’s metalcore. Every song on Forever Scorned is about a failed romantic endeavor, which, for some reason, this style of music utilized as a free pass to go as bleak as musically possible. Forever Scorned weds the trudging riffs of the darkest American hardcore to the guitar heroics of Swedish melodeath, and juxtaposes death growls, grimy shrieks, and heartfelt emo singing over this foundation. The subject of the cover is a scarecrow and a fence in some bombed-out field, rendered in smudgy browns; the song titles are preposterous, placing “The Requiem for Broken Hearts” and “A Romance By the Wings of Icarus” on a tracklist next to the absurdly ominous “Bloodstained Bed Sheet Burden” and the milquetoast “Bridges Left Burning.” The words “Forever Scorned” rest in the bottom right corner in ornate cursive, while the stark Times New Roman of the band’s moniker hovers in the upper left.
I’m not ragging on It Dies Today. Let’s reiterate: Forever Scorned is heavy. That blend of hardcore and Swedish melodeath is better executed here than on The Caitiff Choir, and feels just as uniquely American as Alive Or Just Breathing, if not a bit more. It achieves a sort of grace in its clumsiness, illustrated best on “The Requiem For Broken Hearts,” which is almost beat-for-beat a melodic death metal song until that teeth-gnashing breakdown. It moves from aggressive to mournful and back within the first two minutes, teasing breakdown riffs that masterfully erode the song’s Swedishness away before returning to those sensibilities in full-force, but only for a moment. At 3:22, It Dies Today drop the hammer, and then, as if by way of apology, spend the rest of the song doting on Brooks’s off-key wails and these deeply silly lyrics: “Will you hold this close to your heart forever and always / or will you bathe in my blood forever and always?”
The production on Forever Scorned is flawed but not unlistenable, and pretty good for a little metalcore band out of Buffalo, New York, a city no other notable metalcore bands call home. Its muddiness is actually a boon, especially to “Bloodstained Bed Sheet Burden,” which is unquestionably the heaviest and hardest-hitting song on the record. Brooks does not enunciate well, but this also works to the record’s benefit as it makes his growls and screams sound that much more guttural and monstrous (although I confess that I’m still not sure whether that growl at 4:21 is actually him; digital tampering; an uncredited guest; or a sample). The good lines comes through with greater power, and the bad ones are only slightly more intelligible when he sings, so how are you going to tell? The song is an undertow of panic chords, bludgeoning chugs, and feedback, strongly resembling--and maybe predicting--the downtempo movement.
It makes sense. Metalcore was long derided as music for meatheads more interested in physical assault than musicianship, and the popularity of breakdowns and slow hardcore riffs was regularly singled out as proof. Theoretically, downtempo is just an extension of that mindset, whether it was ever a real thing or not--a twisted little branch on the metalcore tree nourished by overwrought emotion and on a quest for the most ludicrously slow breakdowns possible. Maybe metalcore is to blame for it and for whatever downtempo leads to (notempo? Yikes), but with the clarity of hindsight, we can probably all agree that It Dies Today had the chops, and even the songwriting, to back up their ventures into “ludicrously slow,” proving they could get themselves mistaken for a true-blue Swedish melodeath band better than their peers. That’s all it was really about, back in the day--and by that measure, It Dies Today were an unqualified success.
Me and Him Call It Us - Loss (2006)
Vulnerability is gestured at in metalcore more than it is exhibited. The introduction of outright singing in metalcore was seen, by and large, as an overstepping of boundaries, the “pussification” of a fusion genre whose components--both metal and hardcore--have long codified stoic masculinity. Expressing emotions beyond the spectrum of anger, spite, and hatred was the practice of pop and nu-metal, the lowest you could sink, as far as your stereotypical metalhead was concerned--a belief somewhat justified over time. Although singing became something of a hallmark of the genre, it’s more often utilized as a means of approximating emotion rather than as a genuine expression of it, and so the quality of vulnerability it heralded for the genre has become both a cliche and a trope--a tool in the box, not the product itself.
You wouldn’t expect Me and Him Call It Us to be vanguards of progress. The duo gained prominence, back in the day, through “grassroots” MySpace promotion and a sound that seems like your typical two-tone mathcore: one-half sloppy grinding, one-half noise. There is, of course, more shading to Loss’s palette, although these descriptions are apt--Me and Him Call It Us are competent musicians and sometimes excellent songwriters, but in the spirit of their (pre-MySpace) emo/screamo forebears, are more likely to give a passionate performance than a technically-precise one. Their production is standard-issue for a Myspace band; average at best, but primarily just adequate. Against the odds, these elements lend the record color and highlight its throughline of anxiety, which manifests in startling ways: the way vocalist Blake Connolly chokes on his own voice in the midst of “Cut-Throat Cardiac Arrest,” the borderline-pathetic weeping on the title-track, lends the record an unpredictability that even their contemporaries in Destroyer Destroyer and See You Next Tuesday can't match. Me and Him Call It Us are willing to show emotion in an emotionless genre. Vulnerability is their secret weapon.
As we hear on similar records from the era, from Nuclear, Sad, Nuclear to Our Puzzling Encounters Considered to Behold the Fuck Thunder, the record’s jaggedness makes it both a thrilling and unsettling listen, each lightning-flash twist approximating the jump-scare tactics of your average horror movie (a relationship further buttressed by the record’s production qualities--there's an inexhaustible charm to creativity on a tight budget), but it’s the rare mathcore record, let alone one plucked from the rotten garden of “MySpace grind,” that sounds just as terrified as it is terrifying. Aaron Womack, on drums, is responsible for keeping Loss coherent, but also for its messiness. He sometimes sounds as if he’s in a hurry to escape from Loss’s freakery, although it’s more realistic to imagine that Me and Him Call It Us were only rushing to capitalize on the success of their demos and The (C:) Drive of Loves Stories. Connolly, on guitar, abuses panic chords and dissonance sometimes to Loss’s detriment; however, his skill and conviction on the instrument are hard to deny, and render his performance as a vocalist even more impressive. Whatever logic binds Connolly’s vivid, frightened vocals to his spasming, shrieking riffs seems nearly spontaneous, and doesn’t reveal itself easily, even over repeat listens.
Reprieve comes with atypical frequency, strengthening Loss’s mood of psychological horror through contrast: the back-to-back “Into Troubled Waters, I Sink” and “Headache,” along with “The Sea Swallowed Us Whole,” emulate the weirder bits of Calculating Infinity, as any of these tracks could have been amputated from “Weekend Sex Change” or regrown from parts of “*#..”. “Headache,” by its very nature, may remind Premonitions of War fans of Left In Kowloon’s “Cables Hum Overhead,” since both songs disrupt their respective records with forays into noise, and are seemingly engineered to test patience; they would seem to work better tacked-on after the last track, or left off the record entirely. But, for my money, “Headache” is more necessary to Loss than “Cables Hum Overhead” is to Left In Kowloon; there is more precedent, established right off the bat with “Sarsparilla” and furthered with the well-named “The Anticipation Is Killing Me,” so its headfirst plunge into the record’s latent undertow of madness is earned. “Headache” rises organically out of the anxiety-jazz of “Troubled Waters,” losing the percussive spine of that song (hardly there, anyway) as it opts instead for ebbing breakers of static and and waves of pedal-skronk; it’s the nightmare sequence of Loss’s horror movie, one that goes on for so long and warps so much of the fundamental structure of the whole as to cast doubt on the reliability of our narrator, if not the story itself.
Of course, “Innocent Bystanders Watched in Horror as Peter Jennings Drew His Murder Weapon” reestablishes order with the record’s least-forgiving composition, housing a breakdown that sounds as if Womack and Connolly decided to wage war on each other with their instruments--and this, only to throw us for a loop two tracks later with “Loss,” which as mentioned, verges on the pathetic with its wept vocals and out-of-whack instrumentation. This is where the tension between the record’s violence and insecurity breaks. In isolation, it’s a mess, but in the context of Loss, the result is cathartic in a way truly not seen among bands of this ilk, for whom the opportunity to play in inscrutable meters and irreverent of musical convention is seized mainly for humor or for irreverence sake. Me and Him Call It Us recognized the complement between the unpredictability of the genre and the unpredictability of, well, loss; and although the song does not fare well on its own merits, the cumulative experience of Loss as a whole and self-contained statement is the mathcore equivalent to what Korn did with “Daddy.”
Over time, Me and Him Call It Us have exerted a quiet influence on their branch of the metalcore tree: .gif from God, for example, although overshadowed on their most high-profile release by Vein’s side of the Self-Destruct split, name Me and Him Call It Us a direct influence, and it’s not hard to hear. I doubt the band ever expected to have such a legacy. But more intriguing, given their meteoric rise and current prominence in hardcore and metalcore circles, is the interest Knocked Loose have shown in this obscure little band. They recently covered “Innocent Bystanders...”--or at least the breakdown--following a live rendition of an as-yet-unknown song off their forthcoming album. For a moment, let’s table this homage and its implication that we may be hearing a little Me and Him Call It Us seeping into one of modern metalcore’s biggest bands and examine Knocked Loose. It would be tough to call them vulnerable; we’ll never hear a clean-sung note out Bryan Garris, and it’s probably a safe bet we’ll never hear an acoustic note on a Knocked Loose record, either. What we can expect is for the band to continue eroding the tougher-than-thou culture surrounding the style of aggressive metalcore they play--not in their music, but just outside of it. In interviews, on camera, and in person, Knocked Loose don’t pretend for a second that they’re anything but kids with a passion for heavy music. They aren’t tough-guys, thugs, or “hard,” and they wouldn't try to pass themselves off as any of these things, either. They are genuine, and they are having fun; this, I think, is what Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die recognized when he Tweeted that there was “something special” about Knocked Loose. A lack of pretension is their secret weapon.
Like Me and Him Call It Us, Knocked Loose play by the rules of their genre while covertly dismantling the expected behaviors and culture of the scene. For a band of their frankly staggering popularity to look nonjudgmentally back on the MySpace era of the genre, to recognize their place on a continuum and pay homage to their genre's many unsung champions is big, and bodes well for both Knocked Loose and for the unfairly dismissed era to which Me and Him Call It Us belong. They were ahead of the curve, but they were not alone; and if they can be rediscovered and reevaluated as important visionaries, there are surely more from where they came.
Lariat - Means of Production (2001)
You’ve got to admire Lariat for “Rage Against the Machine Which You Are Only A Part Of,” even if nothing ever came of it. On multiple levels, this little band from upstate New York embody a lot of what Rage Against the Machine only pay lip service to, and are dedicated enough to their anti-capitalist, fascist-destroying ideology to include prose explanations beside the lyrics in the Means of Production CD booklet so that you couldn’t possibly mistake their intentions. These little blurbs are the only insight we have into what made Lariat tick, as it’s impossible to find interviews or even a solid biography on the band. Fortunately, we have their music.
Lariat combine the efficiency of hardcore with the brute aggression of their state’s death metal, crafting riffs based on power rather than technicality and evoking the menacing air of an abandoned factory after dark. They ramp between sludgy beatdowns and choppier metallic sections with the deftness of New Jersey’s Rorschach (no small compliment), but the album is haunted by dread and resignation, starkly captured in the cover art’s elemental scene of industrial labor. Over the course of the album, we’re treated to seemingly every sound out of the New York hardcore scene, recalling the belligerent aggression of early Vision of Disorder as filtered through Brutal Truth, and a touch of Louisiana’s Crowbar without ever directly referencing any of those bands. Already heavy as they come, Lariat’s real concerns lie in disseminating a message that’s visible from the moment you pry open the jewel case. “This is not forever. We are not immortal. If you knew you were dying tomorrow how would you have lived today?” is printed on the back of the lyric booklet. “Start living your life. Start loving. Start living your life for yourself.” is printed on the actual CD.
Hardcore has always had a core of sentimentality that manifests as a predilection toward moral codes and a mentality of brotherhood. Lariat try to both specify and broaden those ideas, expanding the notion of “brotherhood” to include, essentially, humankind. In order, the album covers topics such as: GMOs; police brutality; corruption of government; hypocrisy; the exploitation of the working class; consumerism; the War on Terror; and the militant indoctrination of American youth. This seems like a list of anti-right bullet points, because it is, but Lariat’s conviction affords us both a window on a certain mindset and genuine food for thought, whether their politics align with ours or not. While they occasionally descend into manipulative verbiage and harbor some flawed views on certain facets of society, they raise important questions and cite with specificity certain real-world contradictions worth pondering. Out of respect for their sincerity and effort, and in acknowledgement of the limited availability of the record, I’ll include photographs of the liner notes of the album.
Perhaps the most telling line is right there in the blurb for “Rage Against the Machine Which You Are Only A Part Of,” which I’ll transcribe in full:
Actions always speak louder than words. Being a political band isn’t about an image. It’s about spreading a message. It’s not about what your hair and your clothes look like and it’s not about telling kids not to dance at your shows. It’s about what you have to say. This song is dedicated to those who live every day fighting against the things that they think are wrong and for the things they think are right regardless of the consequences.
The band include a summary of their overall message on the last two pages of the booklet, headed as a “communique” and dated June 8, 2000 (a photo of which will also be included). In it, they clarify that they “are not, nor do we pretend to be, the ultimate authorities on any of the subjects contained in this booklet. We have faith in the idea that you can decide for yourself how to best use the information and opinions expressed here,” and then include contact information.
Actions speak louder than words. Lariat’s primary means of communication may be a scream, but they want to start a conversation, not milk their platform for attention--a chance to have their minds changed if the proof is there. This is a rare trait, especially in hardcore and metal, where adaptability is construed as weakness. Bands with strong political views always run the risk of becoming redundant and overly moral (Stray From the Path, Enter Shikari, etc.) limiting the reach of their message and insulating themselves from healthy discourse. There’s no progress without conflict, and nothing gets done when everyone agrees. If you can’t challenge your own beliefs, who are you to challenge others?
Burn In Silence - Angel Maker (2006)
I can’t imagine what prompted the exodus, but almost every member of Burn In Silence is ported over from Boston death metal band Goratory. Ken Susi, guitarist of fellow Bostonians Unearth, was hired to produce Burn In Silence’s full-length debut Angel Maker on the strength of their self-released Pure As Your First Day EP. After Burn In Silence’s surprisingly short run, members went on to join some of the most popular bands in metal, a list that includes Arsis, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Job For A Cowboy. The question I had to ask myself shortly after their breakup was the same question that arises after reading such a history: how could a band from the prolific Boston scene go so overlooked, especially when they sound so much like a success on paper?
The make-or-break factor with Burn In Silence is their symphonic black metal leanings, which manifest as gratuitous keyboards, tremolo riffs, blast-y drumwork, and Chris Harrell’s vocals, which successfully cast the illusion that Burn In Silence have multiple vocalists. Their closest musical neighbor might be Bleeding Through, but the way Burn In Silence alternate between operatic (“Lines From An Epitaph,” “Watching Dead Leaves Fall”), dissonant (“Primal Human Pain,” “Angel Maker,”), and treacly (“Embrace the Plague,” “The Age In Which Tomorrow Brings”) without much connective tissue makes them a far more disjunctive listen, but an ambitious and fascinating one, too.
The keyboard-and-drum interplay of “Lines From An Epitaph” is a litmus test for your enjoyment of the next four songs, and the rest of “Lines” encompasses everything Burn In Silence do proficiently: staccato riffing, abundant keyboarding, and breakdowns. There are some tremolo accents, and the chorus mushrooms up at unusual intervals. Harrell enunciates well, but his lyrics rely so heavily on hardcore cliches about refusing this and rebelling against that that you are guaranteed to have heard at least one line per song already. The denser “Rebirth” offsets the flashiness of “Epitaph,” and the chorus develops a little more naturally, but it all unfolds under the specter of Killswitch Engage. “The Age In Which Tomorrow Brings” swings in the opposite direction: Harrell’s singing dominates, and his melodies crib directly from the Fear Factory rulebook, lending the track a stale melodrama that isn’t helped by incomprehensible lyrics like “The age in which tomorrow / brings my heart inside to die.”
The off-time riffing of “Embrace the Plague” is where Angel Maker starts to pick up, scaling back the keyboards to give Jason Eick and Andy Ilyinsky space. They run away with the opportunity over the next several tracks, beginning with “Primal Human Pain.” A re-recording of the title track of their EP, it’s a more upbeat and cohesive example of Burn In Silence’s sound and the template they should have stuck by, as it’s Angel Maker’s first highlight, quickly followed by “Angel Maker,” a bonafide metalcore jam. One might expect a return to the goofy keyboarding that dominates the first few songs, but they’re pushed aside to let the song’s eerie Disembodied chords take over. Harrell shows off his death growl for the first time, lending the song’s psycho-killer lyrics some heft while also masking the worst bits. Continuing in this more inspired vein, both “Judging Hope” and “Well Adjusted” come strapped with panic chords, teasing the band’s symphonic edge but shoving it aside before it can ruin anything. At this point, Angel Maker has entered its final arc with “Watching Dead Leaves Fall,” a song that finally strikes the correct balance between Burn In Silence’s black metal and Gothenburg influences. In rare form, Harrell’s lyrics interrogate the finitude of time and culminate in a bluntly effective “How the fuck can you know how this feels?,” a point of climax for the album as much as the song. The music agrees, segueing back into Emperor-lite riffing and then a fade-out, but “World of Regret” has the final word with a mathy opening that is almost good enough to eclipse the song’ return to the bland choruses and keyboard melodies that started Angel Maker.
Not everything works on Burn In Silence’s sole outing, but it’s why it doesn’t and how could work that holds our attention. “Primal Human Pain,” “Angel Maker,” and “Watching Dead Leaves Fall” represent a messy, scattershot, but salvageable blueprint. Their blend of black metal tremolo and metalcore pummel can accommodate dissonance and harmony, and whether you prefer off-time grooves or a little (re: a lot) of pomp, there’s room for that, too. Abigail Williams explored similar territory on their Legend EP, but support for that album and Angel Maker was short-lived as Burn In Silence dissolved and Abigail Williams trend-hopped their way into a longer career than anyone expected. For all its lack of focus, or perhaps because of it, Angel Maker remains a fascinating curio piece in the history of metalcore, one that may someday inspire the right band to take this sound where it should have gone.
Anterrabae - Shakedown Tonight!
Sonically speaking, you could probably slip Shakedown Tonight! right before or right after Last Night in Town and not raise too many eyebrows. Both records may sound a little immature compared to what Every Time I Die would go go on to accomplish, but immaturity is half their appeal: there are as many moments of half-assed brilliance on Last Night in Town as flat-out brilliant ones, sometimes side by side in the same song, and the batting average is so even across the board that you can still find some of its songs mixed into the band’s recent setlists. Despite a consensus that Every Time I Tie have moved far beyond this kind of kind of songwriting, “Emergency Broadcast Syndrome,” “Jimmy Tango’s Method,” and “The Logic of Crocodiles” remains fan favorites; and for those who miss this volcanic period of growth for the band, Shakedown Tonight! has a big, sloppy grin on its face just for you.
Anterrabae hail from Long Island, but they don’t sit very well beside the likes of Agnostic Front, Vision of Disorder, and Cro-Mags. They don’t take themselves very seriously at all. Shakedown Tonight! is a keg party in audio form, full of cheerfully berserk riffing and the faintest inklings of emo, perhaps a byproduct of landing on Triple Crown Records. The songwriting, however, couldn’t be further removed the label’s typical fare. Shakedown Tonight! can barely hold onto its breakdowns, gang chants, tempo changes, shout-alongs, and sing-alongs from the moment “How Joey Got His Groove Back” kicks in, through the twitchy “Dressed To Thrill” and the frenetic “Curfews, Alcohol, and Other Jealousy Related Incidents”; it’s only this song’s gooey acoustic center and “Clever Shoplifting Tactics” that hints at their labelmates in Brand New and Folly before “Etcetera” gets things back on track. A swift kick of dissonance and Drowningman-lite nihilism, this song is exemplary of Anterrabae’s offbeat lyrics:
Lesson one: involves a slice of rye and a hand grenade. A reminder to what we once were, a mere glimpse as to all that we will become. Black preceding black. A hint of life (of nothingness) sporadically appears though, as if fate is having fun with us. Vertical incisions require more imagination. Lies are not lies when you're fooling yourself. Lesson two: and the maturity factor. White lined trophies and black book romances just prove walking before crawling. It's pretty hard to keep that tan through the cracks in the walls and it's quite sad to know that you're condemned to long sleeves and food stamps because when he was trying to save you from this place, you were alright. This is the universal. Lesson three: I'm still screaming.
“Ready Set Explode” is all about its nasty, lurching breakdowns, after which “Her Face Was A Sturdy In Martyred Innocence” acts as a melancholy reprieve (its chants of “I’m sorry is never enough” are surprisingly emotive), but otherwise, it’s one of the album’s only true stumbles, preferring to recycle a couple of tricks we’ve already heard the band pull off earlier on Shakedown Tonight!, and with more style. It’s better thought of as a bit of downtime before the absolute riff-a-thon of “Engage Catch Phrase,” which packs energetic call-and-response vocals and may just be the highlight of the record. “Nevertheless She Was a Mess” bristles with pinch harmonics, and true-to-form, is some of the messiest and most uninhibited music on the album - you can almost feel the stagedive injuries as brilliant lines like “Beware! I have a disease where borderline intolerance fucks lethargy in rhythmic fashion!” cut through the mix.
The sizzling fretwork of “Mending Tones from Vowels and Frowns” would make a great note to end on if not for the obligatory balladry of “CA Speech Goodbye.” Here’s the other stumble on Shakedown Tonight!: it may get off to a promising start with a bass-led introduction, but the songwriting is stilted and awkward, and the decision to rely on weak vocal melodies and subdued guitar plunking deprives the record of a proper ending. It almost seems as if Anterrabae were aiming for something grand and conclusive, either a spoof or an honest attempt at an emotional epic, but they fall so short of that mark that it simply leaves the listener wondering what happened as the album peters out, falls flat, and fades to black.
Most people’s introduction to Anterrabae is by way of the Bomb the Music Industry! song “Happy Anterrabae Day!!!” With its vulgar synth and corny hard-rock build-up, Long Island’s history of venerated hardcore acts isn’t quite the first thing on the listener’s mind; but when the song picks up with the band’s energetic style of punk, it begins to make sense. Lyrically, the song addresses the misdirected aggression of your typical mosh-bro, making a number of insights along the way-- “we're all here for the same stupid reason / we all like some stupid band,” and “Think about the reason you went to shows at twelve years old / We all felt alone” are my favorites. They named this song after Anterrabae for a pretty simple reason: they agree that music, no matter how “hard,” should be fun.
Black Sheep Wall - I Am God Songs (2008)
AYYYYYYY HOWDY YOU FUCKING WEEBS I WAS PERSUADED BY THE STAFFINGTON OF THIS WEBBY TO WRITE AN ARTICLE FOR Y’ALL AND I WAS LIKE “LMAO SURE WHY NOT MY BOSS IS OUT OF THE OFFICE TODAY AND IT’S BETTER THAN SPENDING THE NEXT 4 HOURS SHITPOSTING BECAUSE YESTERDAY SOME 14 YEAR OLD KID IN NEW JERSEY NAMED NOAH OR SOME SHIT PROLLY USED A ROBOT AND BOUGHT 1500000 PAIRS OF THE NIKES I WANTED AND NOW I HAVE TO FIND MEANING IN SOMETHING
IF YOU’RE READING THIS NOAH YOU’RE A WORMINGTON I HOPE YOUR MOM CATCHES YOU BLASTING ROPE TO OVERWATCH FAN ART.
(EDIT: IN THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT'S TAKEN FOR THESE WALKING BURIED ALIVE BASKETBALL JERSEYS TO RELEASE THIS FUCKING ARTICLE I’VE MANAGED TO COP 3 PAIRS OF THESE SHOES ON RESTOCKS LMAO CATCH YA MANS FLEXGOD APOCALYPSE LOOKING LIKE A MONOCHROME VERSION OF KYLE REESE ON THE GRAM @THEREAINTNOFUTUREINTHIS)
SORRY WAS THAT AN ABRUPT INTRO GOOD BECAUSE *SEGUE* BLACK SHEEP WALL’S I AM GOD SONGS HAS THE MOST ABRUPT INTRO TO ANY ALBUM I EVER HEARD IT'S JUST LIKE THIS GUY TALKING TO HIS MOMS OR SOME SHIT THEN DEREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNN
DOOON DOOON DOON DOOONE DOONE
I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I HEARD THAT I WAS LIKE “YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” AND THEN I SPENT THE NEXT HOUR IN MY OLD DORM ROOM PUNCHING MY WALL AND PLAYING IT AS LOUD AS I POSSIBLY COULD OUT OF MY SHITTY PORTABLE SPEAKERS BECAUSE MY R.A. LIVED IN THE ROOM THAT CONNECTED TO MINE AND SHE WAS ALWAYS ARGUING WITH HER BOYFRIEND WHO WAS A MAJOR GOON THIS GUY HAD A MOTORCYCLE HELMET WITH A MOHAWK ON IT AND AN EYEBROW RING I HATED THAT GUY SO MUCH.
LOL I HAD ONE OF THEIR SHIRTS AND I WORE IT UNDER A BLACK WINDBREAKER EVERY DAY IN THE SPRING/SUMMER AFTER MY FRESHMAN YEAR BECAUSE 2013 WAS A SHITTY TIME FOR EVERYONE.
SO BEFORE WE GET STARTED IMMA PUT IN ONE OF THOSE PARTS WHERE ITS LIKE “HERES SOME BACKGROUND INFO THAT I GOT FROM WIKIPEDIA” BUT LETS BE REAL ANY BAND WITH A WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE ISNT COOL UNLESS ITS LIKE 5 SENTENCES LONG AND OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY A BANDMATE SO HERES EVERYTHING I GATHERED OVER THE YEARS ABOUT BLACK SHEEP WALL:
- THEY CANNOT KEEP A LINE UP TO SAVE THEIR LIFE. I THINK EVERY LP THEY’VE RELEASED HAD A DIFFERENT VOCALIST
-THEY GOT THEIR NAME FROM STARCRAFT OR SOMETHING EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE NOT FROM KOREA
-THEY PLAY IN DROP G
- THEYRE LINKED TO ADMIRAL ANGRY, I GUESS THEY HAVE A FEW OF THE SAME MEMBERS AT SOME TIME OR SOMETHING?
- (MINI ADMIRAL ANGRY BUSTER MINI REVIEW: IT RULES. IT’S LIKE THE GROOVIEST PARTS OF A MESSHUGAH SONG BUT IF THEY HAD A POSSUM DOING VOCALS INSTEAD OF A REALLY ANGRY SPEAK-AND-SPELL.
APPARENTLY THEIR GUITAR PLAYER CAME UP WITH THIS IDEA OF CONVERTING 5 STRING BASSES INTO 7 STRING GUITARS OR SOMETHING WILD LIKE THAT. HE DIED BEFORE THE ALBUM CAME OUT AND IT'S UNBELIEVABLY SAD. SORRY TO GET DOWN ON Y'ALL HERES MORE DIATRIBES ABOUT A SLUDGE-METALCORE ALBUM FROM THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION)
GOTTAMN I'M BAD AT THIS IDK WHATEVER SHUT UP FUCK YOU.
IMMA JUST GO TRACK BY TRACK FOR THIS ALBUM BECAUSE I'M ALREADY KINDA LOSING FOCUS AND SO FAR I'VE ONLY REVIEWED THE FIRST 11 SECONDS OF THE ALBUM AND I'M ALREADY LIKE 600 WORDS IN LMAO
OKAY LIKE I SAID BEFORE THE INTRO TO THIS SONG IS FUCKING FIRE. THIS HONESTLY MAY BE THE HEAVIEST SONG I’VE EVER HEARD. THE “DEVOUT DIVINEEE” PART INTO THE BREAKDOWN MAKES ME WANT TO HANG MYSELF IT'S SO HEAVY. ALSO THE ENDING PART SOUNDS LIKE AN ACACIA STRAIN SONG EXCEPT IT DOESN’T SUCK.
IF I WAS A WEENIE WHO WAS TRYING TO ACT OVERLY VERBOSE I WOULD SAY SOMETHING LIKE “THE RUMBLING BASS BECKONS TO AN UNDERLYING PRESSURE TO THE LISTENER, WITH THE UNBELIEVABLY DETUNED GUITARS ACTING MORE AS PERCUSSIVE AGENTS TO ASSAULT THE EAR, LETTING UP ONLY FOR THE OCCASIONAL RELIEF FROM THE SONIC ONSLAUGHT, WHILE THE VOCALS HOWL IN A MID-PITCHED SNARL, ACTING NOT OUT OF THE PROTOTYPICAL ‘I'M TOUGHER THAN YOU’ METAL MINDSET BUT INSTEAD RUMINATING ON THE PERDITION OF LIFE, A SEEMINGLY ENDLESS ABEYANCE OF SUFFERING THAT ONE CAN EITHER PRETEND TO OVERCOME OR ACCEPT THE FUTILITY OF ACTING AGAINST IT AND SURRENDER YOUR OWN AGENCY TO THE CYNICISM OF THE UNIVERSE” BUT I SAVE BEING A GARRULOUS PRICK FOR WHEN I'M TALKING TO PEOPLE IN PERSON SO COME CATCH ME UNDERNEATH A BRIDGE IN THE VALLEY IF YOU WANT ME TO CYBERBULLY YOU IRL (THIS MEANS YOU CESAR)
CARE BY CARCINOGENIC
THIS IS THE SONG WITH THE ONE RELATIVELY FAST PART RIGHT? IDK I'M LITERALLY WRITING THIS AT WORK I DON’T KNOW THIS SHIT OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD BUT FROM WHAT I REMEMBER IT'S ALMOST A METALCORE SONG I THINK IDK THIS ALBUM CAME OUT IN 2008 I'LL FORGIVE THEM.
LOL I'M HONESTLY SHOCKED THEY NEVER SOLD ANY OF THOSE SHIRTS WITH THEIR LYRICS IN SIZE 5 TRILLION FONT ON IT
LMAO THIS SONG'S TITLE IS LIKE WHEN WE ALL HAD THOSE PHONES WITH THE QWERTY KEYPADS THAT SLID OUT? THIS IS THE UNIVERSAL “I'M FRUSTRATED” THING YOU’D DO WHEN YOU WERE 16 LOL REMEMBER THAT THING EVERYONE DID WHERE YOU’D MASH BUTTONS BECAUSE YOU’RE GETTING X-RATED TEXTS DURING ENGLISH CLASS OR BECAUSE YOUR SCHOOL RAN OUT OF THOSE FIZZY JUICES OR WHATEVER LOL DUDE REAL TALK I HAVE NO IDEA HOW MACBETH ENDED BECAUSE INSTEAD OF PAYING ATTENTION WHILE MY JUNIOR YEAR ENGLISH CLASS READ IT I WAS DOING THE AFOREMENTIONED
THIS SONG IS DUMB LONG AND HAS A REALLY SICK INTRO WHERE IT HAS LIKE A NOT-REALLY-OFF-TIME-BUT-IT-SORTA-SOUND-LIKE-IT FLOW. THIS SONG KINDA REMINDS ME OF A POST-ROCK TRACK ONLY IT’S NOT PLAYED BY A BUNCH OF SKINNYFAT DUDES WITH BEARDS WEARING PLAID SHIRTS FROM TJ MAXX. LMAO I’D CALL IT POST-METAL BUT ACCORDING TO THAT GUY FROM ROSETTA POST-METAL DOESN’T EXIST BECAUSE “METAL HASN’T ENDED YET” LMAO THAT’S A REAL QUOTE THIS GUY IS A TEACHER AT A SCHOOL I THINK (ROSETTA IS GREAT THOUGH NO OFFENSE DUDE JUST LEARN WHAT WORDS MEAN PLZ ALSO THE GUY FROM ROSETTA LOOKS LIKE ONE OF THE MYTHBUSTERS AND NO ONE EVER BRINGS THAT UP)
ALL JOKING ASIDE THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST SONG ON THE ALBUM I THINK IDK? IT'S EITHER THIS OR “NIHILITY.” THIS ONE IS ALSO THE MOST EMO OUT OF THEM WHICH KINDA MAKES SENSE FOR SOME REASON? THERE’S CLEAN SINGING AND SPOKEN WORD PARTS AND THERE’S A BRIDGE WHERE IT'S LIKE “THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT I SOMETIMES THOUGHT IT WAS NOT SO MUCH THAT I WANTED TO DIE AS THAT I WANTED TO GO ON NOT LIVING IN MY PRESENT MATTER” WHICH SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE IN THE INSTAGRAM BIO OF SOMEONE WITH A TATTOO OF A DAGGER ON THEIR ARM BUT WHO WORKS SELLING VANS AT THE MALL OR SOMETHING (SORRY IF I JUST OFFENDED THE ENTIRE MUSIC SCENE IN CONNECTICUT)
THE GUY IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS HAS THE SAME VOICE AS ME AND IT ALWAYS KINDA FREAKS ME OUT. ALSO THIS SONG’S NAME SUCKS SO MUCH IT'S KIND OF BAFFLING. TRACK IS GOOD THOUGH I LIKED THE DOUBLE BASS PART BECAUSE I HAVE A SLIPKNOT TATTOO SO NATURALLY I LIKE MID-PACED DOUBLE BASS PARTS AND WISH MORE BANDS BESIDES JOY WOULD EMBRACE THE FACT THAT SLIPKNOT IS THE MAIN REASON 75% OF METAL BANDS THAT CAME OUT SINCE 2004 EXIST AND USE THE BEER KEG/BASEBALL BAT COMBO
BRUH IT'S SUCH A SLOW DAY AT THE OFFICE I'M REWATCHING THAT VIDEO OF THE RUSSIAN NAVY SEALS WHOMST ARE ACTUALLY LIL SEALS AWW LOOK AT THOSE LIL GUYS WHEN DO YOU THINK THE RUSSIANS WILL TEACH DONALD TRUMP TO WEAR A CUTE HAT AND SPIN IN A CIRCL-OH WAIT IT'S ALREADY HAPPENED *HITCHCOCK SAMPLE THAT’S ALWAYS IN FUTURE SONGS PLAYS WHILE THE CAMERA ZOOMS IN AND OUT ON MY FACE*
TEN FUCKING BILLION
BRUH I LOVE THIS TRACK THE LAST “I FUCKING HAAAAAAAATE YOU” PART IS SO FUCKING HEAVY. I FUCKED UP MY HAND PUNCHING THE ROOF OF MY OLD BUICK CENTURY TO THAT PART BECAUSE I HAD AUBURN HAIR FOR A WHILE AND OBVIOUSLY WASN’T MAKING GOOD CHOICES.
OKAY THIS SONG IS DEF THE WEAKEST ON THE ALBUM AND THERE'S LITERALLY TWO TRACKS OF JUST STATIC AND BASS LINES. I GET THE WHOLE “OH IF YOU LISTEN TO THE ALBUM FRONT TO BACK YOU GET INTO THIS MINDSET WHERE IT’S ACTUALLY TERRIFYING” THING BUT LIKE, NAH BRUH THEY GOT PEEWEE HERMAN DOING GUEST VOCALS. I DON’T DIG THINGS THAT HAVE CAVEATS TO ENJOY, LIKE “OH YOU NEED TO READ THE SCRIPT TO UNDERSTAND WHY NOTHING RIDLEY SCOTT DOES MAKES SENSE ANYMORE” OR “OH YOU NEED TO BE SMOKING ANGEL DUST TO BE SCARED BY A 20 SOMETHING YEAR OLD METAL KID FROM CALIFORNIA MAKING DOODLEBOB VOICES OVER A 4 BEAT”
I'M SORRY IF I'VE THROWN IN TOO MANY ANECDOTES ABOUT MY LIFE BUT YOU NEED BACKGROUND TO UNDERSTAND ART MY GUY LIKE REAL QUICK IMMA SPIT SOME OSCAR WILDE KNOWLEDGE AT YOU BUT ACCORDING TO WILDE, ART HAS ABSOLUTELY NO PURPOSE OR MEANING OTHER THAN THE EXPRESSED INTENTION OF THE ARTIST SO @ EVERYONE WHO THINKS LED ZEPPELIN IS ART LMAO @ U BECAUSE THEIR INTENT WAS JUST TO GET AWAY WITH THROWING STING RAYS AT UNDERAGE GIRLS AND STEALING FROM DEAD BLACK PEOPLE (YOU CAN PUT A DISCLAIMER HERE IF YOU WANT BUT I SAID WHAT I SAID)
WHATEVER THOUGH THIS ALBUM IS SICK AND IS WHAT EVERY DEATHCORE BAND WISHES THEY COULD BE WHICH IS FUNNY SINCE IT'S NOT REALLY DEATHCORE BUT MORE LIKE SLUDGEWAVE OR WHATEVER IF YOU CALL IT DOWNTEMPO IM GOING TO KNOCK THE ADIDAS SIDE STRIPES OFF OF YOU.
I GIVE THIS 4 TEENAGERS WEARING “RIP MITCH LUCKER” SHIRTS WITH THE SLEEVES CUT OFF WONDERING WHEN GUTTURAL VOCALS COME IN OUTTA 5 OR LIKE THE LETTER GRADE OF B+/A- DEPENDING ON HOW MUCH CLASS PARTICIPATION BLACK SHEEP WALL HAS.
I FUCK WIT THE MAJORITY OF IT YOU CAN PROLLY SKIP THE LAST SONG BUT IDK MAYBE YOU’LL FIND IT FUNNY OR SOMETHING I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU STUDDED BELT WEARING DWEEBS DO WITH YOUR TIME.
The American Metalcore Project Presents: I UNIRONICALLY THINK NINTENDOCORE WAS THE BEST METAL SUBGENRE OF THE ’00s
(PICTURED: ME RN)
WHAT’S POPPING YOU WALKING VEIN WINDBREAKERS?!!?!?!1??
IT’S ME, YOUR BOY, MR. “IM GOING TO POP DANE COOK IN THE GRILL BECAUSE I DON’T WANT THAT COWARD TO EVER FORGET THAT JAMES ROLFE GOT SHOOTERS”
THIS ISN’T HYPERBOLE DON’T GET IT FUCKED UP I WOULD ABSOLUTELY HIT DANE COOK IN THE HEAD WITH A PADLOCK AND IF ANY OF YOU THINK THAT MY BELLICOSE ATTITUDE TOWARDS A MANCHILD CELEBRITY FROM 2006 BECAUSE HE INSULTED THE ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD IS UNWARRANTED YOU ARE A PIGEON-HEARTED CASUIST AND YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT NINTENDOCORE. FUCK IT JASON SUDEKIS MIGHT JUST CATCH A FADE TOO BECAUSE HE KINDA LOOKS LIKE HIM
ANYWAYS IN MY LAST LIL ARTICLE I TALKED ABOUT HOW I WAS GOING TO WRITE ABOUT NINTENDOCORE IF PEOPLE EXPRESSED INTEREST IN MY DOING SO BUT LOL JOKES ON YOU GUYS I’M GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY. IT’S NOT LIKE Y’ALL CAN DO ANYTHING TO STOP ME I PROLLY GET MORE SHARES/VIEWS ON THIS WEBSITE THAN SOME OF THE ACTUAL WRITERS* ON HERE, ESPECIALLY THE ONE THAT HATES NINTENDOCORE BUT INSISTS THAT THE FIRST FEW AVENGED SEVENFOLD RECORDS WERE GOOD LMAO FOH IF I WANTED TO HEAR BLEEDING THROUGH COSPLAYING AS GUNS ’N’ ROSES I’D JUST LISTEN TO THAT SHITTY COMPILATION RECORD WHERE DILLINGER BUTCHERED “MY MICHELLE” AND UNEARTH FORGOT THE LYRICS TO “IT’S SO EASY”
(*ITS CESAR LMAO ILL BE THE INSTIGATOR OF YOUR FIRST LITERARY BEEF SKRRRTTT)
OKAY NOW THAT I PROBABLY LOST ALL YOUR INTERESTS IN THIS INCREDIBLY ESOTERIC SUBJECT LET ME REEL YOU BACK IN WITH SOME SCENE SETTING:
IT’S THE MID-LATE 2000s: YOUR WCW HAS COONTAIL HAIR AND A STACK OF TWLOHA BRACELETS ON HER ARMS. SUICIDE SILENCE ONLY HAS TWO RECORDS OUT AND THEY’RE NOT THAT BAD. PRESIDENT BUSH WAS THE WORST PRESIDENT OF YOUR LIFETIME. GUYS WITH GAUGES WHO PLAY DRUMS IN DEATHCORE BANDS HAVE CRUNK SIDE PROJECTS (AS OPPOSED TO NOW WHERE EVERY BAND THAT TRIED TO RIP OFF NORTHLANE HAS AT LEAST 3 SOUNDCLOUD RAPPERS IN THEM)
THIS IS THE AGE OF ZANYCORE.
WHAT’S ZANYCORE, YOU ASK?
ZANYCORE WAS BASICALLY JUST MATHCORE PLAYED BY SKINNY KIDS WHO WORE WHITE BELTS AND MADE MERCH WITH RUGRATS CHARACTERS EATING EACH OTHER OR SOMETHING AND ALMOST ALL OF THEM HADABANDNAMETHATWASASENTENCEWRITTENASONEWORD
ZANYCORE WAS A WEIRD GENRE BECAUSE IT RANGED FROM REALLY BAD MEME MUSIC LIKE IWRESTLEDABEARONCE WHERE THEIR ENTIRE SCHTICK WAS JUST “LMAO SO RANDUM1!!1 xDDDD” TO REALLY, GENUINELY GOOD BANDS LIKE DUCK DUCK GOOSE THAT WOULD HAVE SURVIVED THE GREAT SCENE PURGE OF 2013 IF THEIR BAND MEMBERS DIDN’T LOOK LIKE DEZ & NATE (IM COMPLETELY SERIOUS THE FIRST DUCK DUCK GOOSE ALBUM IS EASILY IN MY TOP 20 RECORDS OF ALL TIME AND THEIR SIDE PROJECT RAP BAND KDNPRS HOLDS THE DISTINCTION OF BEING THE ONLY RAP-ROCK BAND IN HISTORY THAT DOESN’T SUCK)
LMAO I PROBABLY JUST GAVE AT LEAST 35 PEOPLE ’NAM FLASHBACKS OF WHEN THEIR MYSPACE NAMES WERE LIKE “xMELISSAxMISERYx” OR “jasonatethelochnessmonster” OR SOME SHIT BUT ANY IDK MY POINT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THAT ZANYCORE AND NINTENDOCORE WERE LIKE COUSIN GENRES SINCE THEY WERE OSTENSIBLY THE SAME THING EXCEPT ONE GENRE WOULD HAVE SOMEONE PLAYING A GAMEBOY AS AN INSTRUMENT AND THE OTHER ONE WOULD HAVE A MYSPACE PHOTO ALBUM OF UNDERAGE SCENE GIRLS HOLDING SIGNS WITH THEIR NAMES ON THEM BUT I’M REALLY BAD AT STAYING ON TRACK WITH THESE THINGS BECAUSE TRYING TO STRUCTURE AN EDITORIAL ON THE FACT THAT WHEN I WAS 16 I REALLY LIKED CHIPTUNE BREAKDOWNS IS KINDA HARD YA FEEL ME?
WHATEVER IT’S NINTENDOCORE TIME NOW SO I’M JUST GONNA GIVE YOU THE SPARKNOTES VERSION OF THE BANDS THAT OCCUPIED THE RELATED VIDEOS SECTION OF YOUTUBE EVERY TIME I TRIED TO G OFF ON SOME HORSE THE BAND TRACK WHILE I WAS WAITING FOR MY FRIENDS TO STOP USING MY HOUSE AS A PUBLIC BATHROOM *PUTS POWERGLOVES ON BOTH FISTS AND WINDMILL MOSHES SO FAST THE MOTOROLA RAZR FLIES FROM YOUR HANDS AND BREAKS AGAINST THE WALL OF THE AMITY TEEN CENTER*
ALSO SPOILER I’M NOT GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT THE BAND POWERGLOVE AT ALL LMAO BEING VAGUELY ASSOCIATED WITH VIDEOGAMES DOESN’T MAKE YOU NINTENDOCORE; PROGRAMMED SYNTH LEADS, QUARTER NOTE BREAKDOWNS, AND VOCALISTS WHO AREN’T GOOD AT SINGING OR SCREAMING MAKES YOU NINTENDOCORE
SKY EATS AIRPLANE:
NEXT TO HORSE THE BAND, SKY EATS AIRPLANE WAS PROBABLY THE MOST WELL-KNOWN BAND IN THE WHOLE NINTENDOCORE MOVEMENT. THERE WAS A 50% CHANCE THAT THIS SONG OR THE ACOUSTIC TRACK THEY DID WAS ON AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS IPOD NANO. APPARENTLY THIS ENTIRE RECORD WAS DONE BY TWO GUYS AND THE GUY WHOS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE INSTRUMENTS OWNS A LIGHTING COMPANY NOW SWEAR TO GOD LOL
SKY EATS AIRPLANE DID ANOTHER ALBUM AFTER THIS ONE (EDIT: APPARENTLY THEY ALSO DID AN EP TOO BUT I JUST LEARNED ABOUT IT NOW) AND THAT ONE WAS LESS NINTENDOCORISH AND MORE ALONG THAT THING THAT ASKING ALEXANDRIA AND ENTER SHIKARI DID WHERE IT WAS KINDA EDM-ISH ONLY WITH LESS COMPLETELY AWFUL PEOPLE INVOLVED (FOR THE MOST PART) LOL THE LEAD SINGLE FROM THAT ALBUM HAD THE GUY FROM OH, SLEEPER ON IT YALL REMEMBER OH, SLEEPER? I’M PRETTY SURE THERE’S PEOPLE WHO WERE IN OH, SLEEPER THAT FORGOT ABOUT OH, SLEEPER
SKY EATS AIRPLANE ALSO HAD JERRY ROUSH AS A VOCALIST FOR A WHILE AND THAT GUY HOLDS THE RECORD FOR MOST L’s TAKEN AS A MUSICIAN EVER SINCE HE WAS IN 2 BANDS THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO BLOW UP BUT NEVER DID (S.E.A. AND GLASSCLOUD, LMAO GLASSCLOUD) AND ALSO WAS A FILL IN FOR OF MICE AND MEN BUT GOT KICKED OUT ONCE THE ATTACK ATTACK! GUY CAME BACK UNTIL HE QUIT AGAIN FOR LIKE THE 300000TH TIME LOL SORRY JERRY
AS THE WORLD FADES:
THIS BAND WAS A ONE HIT WONDER OF YOUTUBE LOL. THE BEGINNING OF THIS SONG WAS KINDA SICK IN 2010 BUT JESUS CHRIST THIS GUY CAN’T SING AT ALL. HE SOUNDS LIKE HE’S ON THE PHONE TRYING TO ASK A RADIO HOST THE NAME OF A SONG HE DOESN’T KNOW BUT CAN REMEMBER THE MELODY OF. IDK THIS BAND IS P. FORGETTABLE BUT THIS TRACK IS OKAY AND IT AND IN THE END OF THIS VIDEO THERE IS A MICROSOFT POWERPOINT DISSOLVE AND AN xD FACE IN IT. THIS IS BASICALLY THE MUSICAL EQUIVALENT OF THOSE RAINBOW SOUR GUMMY RIBBONS (DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS)
OKAY SO CONFESSION TIME: I KNEW ABOUT IAMERROR WHEN I WAS YOUNGER BUT JUST LEARNED ABOUT MONOMATE IN LIKE, THE PAST COUPLE WEEKS. BASICALLY WHAT HAPPENED WAS THIS GUY NAMED PETE (HE WENT BY P33T BECAUSE 2010) HAD THIS OKAY BUT NOT GREAT INSTRUMENTAL BAND NAMED AFTER THAT ZELDA NPC BUT THEN DECIDED “WHATEVER I’LL DO VOCALS ON IT AND RE-RELEASE IT” AND IT’S LEGITIMATELY ONE OF, IF NOT THE BEST RECORDS IN THIS SUBGENRE.
GRAND BATTLE IS A REALLY FUN, NOSTALGIC, AND MELODIC NINTENDOCORE RECORD WITH A BUNCH OF REALLY WELL-DONE MELODIES IN IT I’M KINDA PISSED I DIDN’T FIND THIS WHEN I WAS 15 SO I COULD HAVE TALKED ABOUT IT MORE AND NOT HAVE IT SEEM SO WEIRD
AS PIRATES OFTEN DO:
LMAOOOOOOOOOOO DID Y’ALL REALLY EXPECT ME NOT TO MAKE A CONNECTICUT JOKE IN THIS BISH!? APOD WAS THE MOST POPPING BAND IN THE 203 DURING THE SCENE YEARS AND I HATED THE SHIT OUT OF THEM FOR REALLY STUPID REASONS LIKE FAKE RUMORS AND HOW THEIR HAIR LOOKED WHEN I COULD HAVE BEEN HATING THEM FOR LEGITIMATE REASONS LIKE BEING FROM THE CITY THAT MY HOMETOWN WOULD ROUTINELY CRUSH AT FOOTBALL EVERY THANKSGIVING GO GAELS FUCK THE RED RAIDERS
APOD DIDN’T IDENTIFY AS NINTENDOCORE BUT SOMEONE CALLED THEM THAT ON A FACEBOOK GROUP AND I HAD A CONNIPTION FIT AND ALMOST BROKE MY NES BELT BUCKLE IN HALF BECAUSE I HATED THEM SO MUCH
APOD WAS BASICALLY JUST THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA BUT A LITTLE LESS JESUS AND A LITTLE MORE GUITAR LEADS. I WAS AT THEIR LAST SHOW AND I GOT A BLACK EYE FROM SOME KID IN A MEMPHIS MAY FIRE SHIRT WHO WAS ACTUALLY SUPER NICE AND APOLOGIZED AND WHEN I FOUND THE KID I WENT TO THE SHOW WITH AND HE SAW MY EYE HE WENT BERSERK. LMAO HOMIE LAUNCHED HIMSELF INTO A FLYING FALCON PUNCH AND KNOCKED OUT A KID THAT WASN’T EVEN THE ONE WHO HIT ME LOL
I’M FRIENDS WITH ALL THE KIDS FROM APOD NOW THOUGH WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT 2011 ME WOULD HAVE BURST INTO FLAMES AT THE THOUGHT OF, SO I GUESS THAT JUST GOES TO SHOW THAT MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T BE A DICK AND TRY TO FIGHT KIDS YOU BARELY KNOW AT CARNIVALS BECAUSE LIKE 5 YEARS LATER YOU COULD BE FRIENDS WITH THEM (SORRY ERIC)
WHEN I WAS MAKING THIS LIST I WAS THINKING ABOUT HOW I HATED THIS BAND SO MUCH BUT HAD FORGOTTEN WHY. BUT WHEN I FOUND THE LINK FOR THIS SONG I REMEMBERED. THIS IS THE MOST PAINFULLY 2010 4CHAN IMAGE I’VE SEEN IN MY LIFE. LMAO THIS IS FUCKING TRASH B. THIS SOUNDS LIKE ISETMYFRIENDSONFIRE BUT WITH SOMEONE PLAYING KIRBY’S DREAMLAND IN THE BACKGROUND. I’M WILLING TO BET AN UNOPENED CAN OF CRUNK JUICE THAT WHOEVER WAS INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT BECAME A DUBSTEP DJ AND NOW IS ONE OF THOSE GUYS WHO WEARS SHIRTS WITH HOLES IN THEM AND DEFENDS XXXTENTACION IN FACEBOOK GROUPS
DESPITE GOING AS FAR AS COVERING HORSE THE BAND (THE COVER SUCKED BTW) THESE GUYS SOUNDED MORE LIKE THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA THAN ANYTHING ELSE BUT THEY HAD SOME BANGERS WHICH IS WEIRD BECAUSE BESIDES THAT EP ABOUT ZOMBIES THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA HAS EXACTLY ZERO BANGERS. LMAO THESE GUYS TRIED TO GET SERIOUS AND PULL A CODE ORANGE BY DROPPING THE “RABBITS” FROM THEIR NAME BUT NO ONE GAVE A SHIT BY THEN LOL.
ONE TIME WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER ONE OF MY FRIENDS GOT INTO A FIGHT WITH A KID AT A SHOW WHO WAS WEARING A 100DEADRABBITS SHIRT AND THAT 100DEADRABBITS KID GOT HIS SHIT ROCKED WHICH SHOULDN’T BE SURPRISING, GIVEN THAT THE FIGHT WAS BETWEEN A KID WEARING A PARKA WITH BASKETBALL SHORTS AND ANOTHER KID WHO, AS PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED, WAS WEARING A MAGENTA COLORED 100DEADRABBITS SHIRT.
THE SONG IN THE LINK WAS PRETTY COOL BUT I WAS EMBARRASSED EVERY TIME I SAW THE BACKGROUND LMAO WHICH SUICIDE GIRL WAS THIS? IMMA COME CLEAN I NEVER GOT THE WHOLE SUICIDE GIRL THING BUT I THINK IT WAS MOSTLY CUZ WHEN I WAS LIKE 11 I WATCHED A LOT OF THAT VH1 SHOW WHERE THE GUY FROM POISON MADE OUT WITH A BUNCH OF THEM AND IT KINDA CAUSED ME TO DEVELOP A TASTE AVERSION TO IT OR SOMETHING IDK I JUST DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO THINK ABOUT BRET MICHAELS AT ANY POINT DURING COURTSHIP IF POSSIBLE THANK YOU
THIS SHIT PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH BECAUSE I GOT DUPED INTO LISTENING TO THEM MORE THAN ONCE. THESE GUYS WERE ALWAYS BEING BROUGHT UP IN THE NINTENDOCORE SUBJECTS EVEN THOUGH THIS IS JUST A NICKASAUR CLONE BAND LMAO REMEMBER NICKASAUR? I WONDER WHAT THAT GUYS DOING NOW LOL HE’S PROBABLY IN A GROUPCHAT WITH ALEX EVANS AND THE READY SET COMPLAINING ABOUT HOW NO ONE AT THE PACSUNS THEY MANAGE TAKES THEM SERIOUSLY
HORSE THE BAND:
OKAY LET ME START OFF WITH A BOLD STATEMENT: HORSE THE BAND HAVE ONE OF THE GREATEST OEUVRES IN THE LAST DECADE.
NOW LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH AN EVEN BOLDER STATEMENT IN CASE YOU DORKS WERENT READY: HORSE THE BAND IS THE MOST UNDERRATED METAL/HARDCORE BAND EVER.
NOW REAL QUICK, LETS DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN “OVERLOOKED” AND “UNDERRATED.” A FORGOTTEN GEM OF A BAND LIKE SIX GALLERY IS OVERLOOKED. THEY WEREN’T POPULAR WHEN THEY WERE AROUND, THEY REMAIN IN RELATIVE OBSCURITY TO THIS DAY. AN UNDERRATED THING IS SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT, BUT DON’T GIVE ENOUGH CREDIT TO, LIKE JOHN GOODMAN OR THAT MEME OF THE DINOSAUR GOING YEEE
EVERYONE IS AWARE OF HORSE THE BAND BUT VERY FEW PEOPLE REALIZE HOW FANTASTIC THEY ARE ONCE YOU GET PAST THE INITIAL GIMMICK. WHILE THEY HAVE A BUNCH OF SILLY SONGS, INCLUDING AN ALBUM ABOUT FUCKING PIZZA, THEY HAVE A SCOPE OF SONGWRITING THAT BORDERS ON THAT OF A POST-ROCK BAND.
I’M COMPLETELY SERIOUS THE FIRST TIME I HEARD HORSE THE BAND I WAS AT MY DAD’S HOUSE TO WATCH THAT FREE ON DEMAND THING FOR FUSE, TRYING TO FIND SONGS TO USE AN ITUNES GIFT CARD I GOT FOR CHRISTMAS ON (THAT’S A VERY OLD SENTENCE), AND WHEN I SAW THE VIDEO FOR “SHAPESHIFT” I STARTED CRYING.
I GOT TO SEE HORSE THE BAND A COUPLE YEARS AGO IN THE SAME WEEK THAT I SAW THE ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD MOVIE AT SOME THEATRE IN NEW YORK AND IT WAS KINDA LIKE 16 YEAR OLD ME WAS BEING REINCARNATED. I’VE BEEN TO HUNDREDS OF SHOWS IN MY LIFE BUT THE MOST IGNORANT I’VE EVER BEEN WAS FOR H THE B LOL. I RAN ON PEOPLES HEADS LIKE I WAS JESUS OR SOME SHIT DURING HALF THE SET AND SCISSOR KICKED SOMEONE IN THE HEAD DURING “CUTSMAN” I WAS AN ASSHOLE LOL SORRY.
DUDE I’M JUST RAMBLING AT THIS POINT HORSE THE BAND IS SO COOL I HAD A DREAM ABOUT PAYING NATHAN WILKE $200.00 TO DO A GUEST SPOT ON A LUCRETIA SONG LOL I MAY JUST DO THAT.
TL;DR HORSE THE BAND IS BETTER THAN DEAFHEAVEN OR WHATEVER LAME BAND YOU LIKE AND NINTENDOCORE WAS SICK AND IT WOULD HAVE DONE A LOT BETTER IF THE MAJORITY OF ITS FANBASE DIDN’T CONSIST OF THOSE KIDS WHO WORE NECKLACES MADE OUT OF MONSTER ENERGY PULLTABS
NOW GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE BEFORE I SELECT-START-A-B YOUR ENTIRE EXISTENCE
And the Hero Fails - Empire Smile (2006)
The goal of the American Metalcore Project has always been to highlight overlooked and underappreciated records, but rarely is an album we cover as unjustifiably ignored as Empire Smile. And the Hero Fails are without a doubt one of the most finely-honed and stylistically assured bands we’re likely to cover, and on paper, couldn’t possibly have come and gone like they did.
Starting out as a vegetarian grind band, the shift to metalcore (and carnivorism) was incidental, a matter of changing tastes that led them to play a unique blend of Fear Before The March Of Flames and Hot Damn!-era Every Time I Die, the angularity of the latter tempered with the structural proficiency of the former. Yeah, Fear Before dropped “the March of Flames” from their name, but And the Hero Fails’s sound makes specific reference to Odd How People Shake and Art Damage in the snotty cleans and cat-screech highs of “They Came Covered In Snow” and “Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” which are almost indistinguishable from those of David Michael Marion and Adam Fisher, and are in stark contrast to the mid-range growls that dominate the album prior to “Song of the Wolf.” This interlude, too, recalls the weirdness of Fear Before The March Of Flames, being a lengthy spoken prayer (in what I presume to be Russian) that divides the album’s most straightforward bone-crunchers from more experimental fare. What’s so great about And the Hero Fails is that they have enough personality and compositional know-how to make what are really wildly different interpretations of their core sound seems like complementary halves of a cohesive whole.
“March of the Wolf” (there’s a lycanthropic motif here) is about as no-nonsense an intro as you could want. It fades in with a slightly off-center breakdown built around a crashing hi-hat and a sinister riff, then explodes into “His Imperial Victory.” Back-to-back with “A Massacre Prevents A War,” it makes for a killer one-two punch, bombarding the listener with well-executed riffing of both the mathy and Swedish variety. The same formula appears on “A Massacre Prevents A War” with the addition of some nasty, prominent breakdowns--just try to sit still when the song turns into a full-on battle anthem, replete with marching rhythms and chants of “One alive is worth five dead!” And the Hero Fails’s grind background noticeably informs the track’s adrenal fury and the following track, “Sun of Man,” keeps the band’s energy up, featuring dissonant passages at a stormier, more methodical pace, as well as a brief guitar solo.
The second half of the album could have been a jarring departure if As the Hero Fails didn’t ease us in with the first half of “They Came Covered In Snow,” which channels the aggression of “His Imperial Victory” in a more disjointed time signature, and takes its time unpacking the panic chords before the song launches into a dissonant, addictive call-and-response. FBTMOF’s influence, and the mathcore overtones it entails, are already on our minds thanks to the build-up, so the introduction of Rodriguez’s impassioned shrieks isn’t quite so left-field. The song continues layering odder and more expressive guitar lines and even slips in a couple of Deftones-y clean vocals; and although the song ends on a fade, “The Escape” feels of one piece with the experimental nature of “Snow.” The higher vocals take on another texture: a punk yelp (which is present, but easily missed, on “A Massacre”), and the one-dimensional growls descend into pig-squeals for the closing breakdown. And the Hero Fails manage to not only make this dated technique sound as brutal as it was intended to be, but even kind of tasteful.
For some reason, “Preface to Extinction” is another interlude. It’s easily the weakest of the three and consists of less than a minute of simple drumming, clean tones, and muted bass that could have either been developed into an interesting song in itself or folded into the runtime of “Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” since it ultimately serves no further purpose than to introduce Empire Smile’s closer. Whatever disappointment this conjures vanishes, as this this is easily the most varied song on the album. Many of And the Hero Fails’s heavier tendencies are subdued to make room for an emotive four-and-a-half minutes: while the song does feature a breakdown, it’s so embedded that it registers as more of a transition than a mosh-moment and is quickly overpowered by some August Burns Red-like shredding and distorted rambling. Around the three-minute mark, the song breaks into a resounding chant of “We’ll carry on without them” and chiming guitar, but the moment is swept into a back-and-forth between shredding guitars and uplifting cleans before finally resolving on a short breakdown passage.
How Empire Smile didn’t make And the Hero Fails huge is beyond me. It’s polished and technical without coming off artificial or impenetrable, and played with obvious passion, craft, and a gift for experimentation that places them above and ahead of their peers. Despite what titles like “A Massacre Prevents A War” and “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” might lead you to believe, their lyrics are neither overtly brutal or navel-gazing but thoughtful, confident, and fairly poetic. It’s a bit tragic that after all the talk of “carrying on” And the Hero Fails did not, and left far too short a legacy behind. But that, too, is par for the course with the American Metalcore Project, so enjoy what’s here and on their debut, The Mistake That Cost the World. We’re not getting more!
The Agony Scene - The Darkest Red
Can you “sell out” and still make great music?
The Agony Scene make a strong case that it’s possible. Their self-titled album is steeped in European melodeath worship, from Mike Williams’ screech to its Slaughter of the Soul riffage, sprinkled with breakdowns to remind us that it’s a metalcore album, too. In fact, the band was first conceived as a spirit-filled hardcore band a la Strongarm, Overcome, and Zao, but in an ironic twist, lineup changes secularized their message just prior to noted Christian label Solid State Records getting their hands on The Agony Scene’s demo. Apart from heavy-handed melodeath influences, The Agony Scene’s novelty at the time was that it featured a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” This may not seem like a big deal in a post-Punk Goes world, but you can hear now the way that cover plays to the strengths The Agony Scene would more thoroughly mine on The Darkest Red, which drops most of the melodeath for the sounds of the so-called “New Wave of Heavy Metal.”
That term probably doesn’t hold a lot of meaning today, but it was a big deal through the early ’00s. Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, and Unearth were generally regarded as the faces of this “wave,” although it could encompass bands like All That Remains, God Forbid, and Trivium. Further back than that, it also would have included Machine Head and Biohazard, since the term was originally meant to refer to what it seems to: a wave of American bands playing uniquely American metal. However, with metalcore’s rapid ascent in the states, the term became shorthand for the exploding New England scene, and took on a kind of stigma. Some bands considered part of the wave are groovier, some more melodic, and some more commercial, but really, a NWOAHM band tends to be a little of each, and to follow the hard verses/soft choruses format. Before entering the studio, The Agony Scene claimed they wouldn’t be stressing over genre or commercial viability. They would write what they wanted. They had also just jumped to Roadrunner Records, a prominent label for commercially-viable metalcore bands during the ’00s, but you can draw your own conclusions.
What matters is the quality of the music, and The Darkest Red is rock-solid metalcore and a better example than most of the NWOAHM. The Agony Scene’s melodeath influence is relegated to the backburner, but it comes through now and again. Some saw this change as a dumbing-down of The Agony Scene’s sound, but the album demonstrates an overall better feel for structure and progression than prior, even if some songs do adhere a little too slavishly to the verse-chorus-verse format (“Screams Turn To Silence,” “My Dark Desire”). The trade is that the band can work on the details without worrying too much about the big picture, and put vocalist Mike Williams right up front where he belongs. His screech was a distinctive piece of The Agony Scene, but like most other “AttheGatescore” vocalists, he was really just ripping on Tomas Lindberg. On The Darkest Red, however, his voice is grimy, insectile, and pretty damn unique, injecting even the album’s most generic passages with personality. The guitarwork goes straight for the throat. It’s all-American groove from the title track onward, whether the subtle bends in the chorus of “Scars of Your Disease” or the death metal inflections of “Suffer” and “Scapegoat,” the album’s most straightforwardly aggressive bangers, and an intriguing glimpse at a different Agony Scene. If one was to remove Williams’ warbly singing (serviceable, but a sore spot), The Darkest Red would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their last album in terms of sheer heaviness, although it may be of a different shade, and is certainly the most varied and experimental album in The Agony Scene’s brief discography.
Access to better production values and marketing means compromise, but what we forget is that there’s usually room for it. A little extra vocal range and sleeker guitarwork doesn’t take away from the energy of The Darkest Red’s ten tracks (well, nine and “Prelude,” a minute of noise), nor do these things obscure the fact that The Agony Scene are clearly proud of what they accomplished. Shortly after their follow-up album Get Damned, a superficially punk-influenced metalcore record, The Agony Scene called it quits. Then, around 2014, they began hinting at a new record and began playing shows again. Their setlists are culled mainly from The Darkest Red, songs over a decade old that they still enjoy playing, and fans still enjoy hearing. The Agony Scene never got as big as some of their NWOAHM peers despite doing all the same things a little better, but truly deserved more than they got. Time will tell if they still have the chops to produce another catchy, heavy slab of metalcore like this, but if they did it once, there’s a chance they can do it again, and claim their place at the forefront of the metalcore resurgence.
The Blinding Light - The Ascension Attempt (2004)
The Blinding Light are usually invoked with a very specific description: “Tom Araya fronting Converge.”
Simply mentioning Converge in the same sentence is shorthand for a particular sonic aesthetic, backed by the fact that The Blinding Light was signed to Jacob Bannon’s label Deathwish, Inc., perhaps the record label for hardcore and metalcore. The distinction of Tom Araya from Slayer means a couple of things, too: Slayer is arguably the premier thrash metal band, even more than the other Big Four under the right circumstances, because they’re the most single-mindedly destructive of their peers, favoring speed and aggression over finesse their entire career. We know what a Kerry King solo sounds like. We also know what Tom Araya sounds like, and that’s the piece that matters. His voice is as integral to Slayer as the solos, and any comparisons to his style is a polarizing matter. Does the thought of his shrill, militaristic bark over Ballou’s nimble riffing sound like the groundwork of a metalcore band worth the time?
The Tom Araya-ite in question is Brian Lovro, ex-frontman of Minnesota hardcore outfit Threadbare prior to The Blinding Light. His style was a more even mix of Drowningman-esque spoken word (Simon Brody cites Threadbare as one of his band’s key influences), aggressive shouts and screams, scarcely resembling the howl he utilizes here. From the first buzzing notes of “Wake Up/The Wind Up,” The Ascension Attempt sounds like it’s at war with itself. This intensity is its defining characteristic, and sometimes its only characteristic--from the granular guitar tone to the lack of any clean vocals or breathing room whatsoever, it’s an approach that might sink a less skilled metalcore band, but that becomes the basis for genre perfection in The Blinding Light’s grasp. Tim Munce and Chad Petit don’t fuck around: they churn out thunderous breakdown after sinuous riff after curb-stomping groove without reprieve, unless you count the off-kilter strumming on “The Wind Up,” “I Can’t Slow Down,” “Hydrant” and “Earth Razor,” moments that recall the most sinister moments of Unruh’s Setting Fire to Sinking Ships.
Out of the sulfurous firepit of The Ascension Attempt, “Routine Seizure” emerges as the clear highlight. While the thrash rings clear on “I Can’t Slow Down” and “Light,” and “Snake Killer” and “Earth Razor” touch on the band’s buried progressive streak, “Routine Seizure” is a splash of acid: over a base of harmonized panic chords, The Blinding Light pour crushing bottom-string chugs, At The Gates-styled riffing; elephantine breakdowns and bloodcurdling cries of “Down on your knees!”; death metal blasts, math grooves, and straight-up grind to cap one of the most breathlessly violent songs in metalcore. Lovro’s manic barks of “swing it to the left / swing it to the right” throughout sound less like dance instructions than death threats, and he might actually be spitting blood by the time the song finds him screaming “Twenty-four hours / three-six-five days / All rise / All right.” It’s a four-minute masterstroke with no equal on The Ascension Attempt. That “Routine Seizure” is positioned so close to the front of the album seems to indicate that The Blinding Light knew what they were doing; so rather than top it, they spend the rest of the album exploring other applications for their sound. “Hydrant” makes the most extensive use of those Converge/Unruh atmospherics, coming across like a mutant offshoot of “They Stretch for Miles” from The Poacher Diaries; a tribute to Threadbare; or even a distant ancestor to Cult Leader’s “A Good Life.”
The Ascension Attempt is profoundly negative music with no need to be more than that. It has no commercial ambition and doesn’t care whether you enjoy it. The Blinding Light’s attitude is more in line with the odium of grind than the rising metalcore scene amid which they formed, but their music champions the character of the scene they so clearly revere--or, as in the case of Lovro or ex-Nodes of Ranvier drummer Josh Ferrie, that they had a hand in establishing. The Blinding Light weren’t a groundbreaking act, but with a sound this fully-realized, there’s nothing left to innovate.
Wherein Brian hilariously overanalyzes a subgenre of metal!