2. Buried Inside - Chronoclast
Chronoclast is the counterpart to Jane Doe we didn’t know we were missing.
Yet, out of our six new metalcore classics, Chronoclast maybe the least obviously unique. A cursory listen or two might reinforce that impression: on their junior album, Buried Inside owes a clear debt to Converge and other chaotic metalcore acts, and that impression may even stick for the first few listens. Be patient. Chronoclast may be bent on destroying the very concept of time (more on that later), but time is exactly - ironically - what Buried Inside need to thrive. It doesn’t distinguish itself with technical flourishes or by playing dice with the time signatures. Instead, even in its densest, dirtiest moments, Buried Inside make sure never to lose sight of their sense of melody.
Astute listeners will pick right up on a number of motifs that surface and resurface over the course of the album, the most obvious instances of which are the openings of the album’s “Introduction,” “Reintroduction,” and closer “Time As Resistance,” which are all variations on the same melodic theme. These motifs, and this broader focus on melody, are right up front in the songwriting and the mixing without being obvious. This is partly due to a range of competing influences, including sludge, doom, and post-metal, with hints of Envy/Sika Redem-like screamo. It’s all the more testament to the band’s abilities that they can keep things so deftly melodic without resorting to chaos, giving the album the shape and direction that comparable efforts lack. Those same listeners (or those conducting a little research on the side - I know you’re out there!) will soon realize that Chronoclast is actually one complete musical idea divied up into ten movements, or “Selected Essays on Time-Reckoning and Auto-Cannibalism,” according to the album’s subheader.
Consider Chronoclast the “left brain” to Jane Doe’s right: as precise as Jane Doe is passionate, as measured as Converge is frenzied; calculated instead of combustible, specific where that album is universal. Not an opposite, but an equal and necessary complement.
Jane Doe precedes Chronoclast by nearly half a decade: the influence is inarguable, since Converge had already followed up with You Fail Me by 2004 (which still goes underappreciated simply for being its immediate successor). Jane Doe’s eye-wateringly sincere mix of grind, metal, and hardcore is the template for just about any metalcore band worth their salt since 2001. Plenty of bands skew the ratios, but Buried Inside are subtler than most: they dial down the grind and keep the tempo at a mid-paced simmer, but such that, like any good cook working from a tried-and-true recipe, the results remain recognizable.
This is the importance of Chronoclast: it’s intelligent, progressive metalcore lacking the “quirks” and add-ons that acts like Between the Buried and Me stuff into their music, allowing them to stay rooted in tradition while also advancing, and arguably improving upon their predecessors: because while Jane Doe is the reason the word “catharsis” exists for a sizeable piece of the heavy music community, it’s a breakup album. The breakup album, no doubt, but still one of many. Jane Doe is anyone. Even the woman on the cover is no one in particular, and the story of her genesis is one for another piece entirely. But the genius of the album, and of Jane Doe herself, is that she can be your anyone.
Your no one.
That’s not the case with Chronoclast. This album is very much about something in particular, and may not be for everyone. I fidgeted for quite a while trying to find a way to appropriately phrase the album’s message, but stumbled on it in someone else’s writing: reviewing for Punknews, “Six_53JM” calls Chronoclast “a study and analysis of time as an imperial construct for the regulation of capitalist economy and of time as the primary societal control,” and makes the rest of the point for me, too:
In the hand's (or voice) of a lesser vocalist, the lyrical content, while brilliant and masterfully written, might've come off as slightly pretentious or even self-indulgent, but Nick Shaw's impassioned vocal delivery manages to give his socio-political rhetoric great heft, weight and relevance….Ultimately, the band's message strives for a certain emancipation of conscience among individuals, for people to simply question and potentially critique this man-made paradigm, something that isn't anchored in fact, but merely taken for granted.
Think what you like, but of the innumerable bands that attempt this sort of highbrow intellectual gobbledygook, very few can back it up with the technical, compositional, and lyrical chops Buried Inside display on Chronoclast. And none, in my experience, have tackled a subject quite as daunting as this, or with such elegance: from the opening call to “let loose the clockwork dogs,” its indictment of time (or Time, with a capital “T”) as “the prosthesis to which we depend,” there is real poetry waiting to be unearthed here, and a philosophy just as raw and heavy as what’s presented on Jane Doe. What it doesn’t have, again, is that album’s universality: quite simply, a lot of people aren’t going to be able to make heads or tails of what it’s trying to say, and a lot of people who do aren’t going to care.
Fortunately, Buried Inside aren’t seeking converts, or at least not in quite so sociopolitical a sense. This is genuine, edge-of-your-seat music with as many moments of gut-wrenching catharsis and seething darkness as Jane Doe, for opposite and equal reasons. You can happily coast on the oceanic tension of Chronoclast without needing to understand a word of it, as I often do. The album ebbs and flows with the cohesion of a single piece, cresting with the last four songs: beginning with the “violent revolt of being” that ends “Time As Abjection,” swelling through the anxious minute of “Time As Automation,” erupting with the gang-shouts of “Make way!” on “Time As Commodity” and its wide-eyed revelation that “to the power brokers of hypercapitalism, our lives are on the auction block!” before, finally, carrying us out to sea on the uplifting surge of “Time As Resistance.”
It’s always a comfort to know that there are bands like Buried Inside capable of spinning hope out of so many traditionally negative genres. For all its lyrical, compositional, and melodic tension, the release of “Time As Resistance” is some of the most inspiring stuff in the genre, nevermind the subgenre. Calculated to the end (and, depending on the listener, perhaps to a fault), Buried Inside doesn’t offer a solution to the philosophical quandaries it raises. Answerable questions aren’t really questions, after all, and to that end, Chronoclast and Jane Doe are utterly the same.
But Chronoclast’s words are Chronoclast’s words, and that’s just as valuable as quality as any.
Time politics are power politics.
No denial, no exception.
The fallacy of science and tech is its complete objection.
All technologies are biased, this the Decadists knew:
bringing a revolutionary backwash that flooded power turbines for the clockmakers, the foremen, the officials, and the megamachine.
But the seams will split.
The myth will spoil.
The monolith will crack.
The soil will turn.
Death comes in time.
Death comes with time.
Wherein Brian hilariously overanalyzes a subgenre of metal!