For The Love Of - Feasting On The Will Of Humanity (1998)
New Jersey doesn’t get the credit it deserves, so the American Metalcore Project would like to take this introduction to formally recognize the home state of Rorschach, Deadguy, Burnt by the Sun, and The Dillinger Escape Plan as one of metalcore’s preeminent scenes, deserving of the same accolades Massachusetts enjoys. Whether they’ve achieved popular success or not, the hardcore and metalcore of New Jersey, especially the New Brunswick area that Deadguy and Dillinger both hail from, has contributed as much to metalcore as Boston by giving a platform to one of the most ferocious underground scenes in metal.
At the forefront of the state’s original hot streak but hardly brought up now were For the Love Of. Despite a modest discography consisting of only a full-length and an EP, their reputation as one of the hardest-working, hardest-playing bands in the scene, and as purveyors of one of the most batshit-crazy live shows in metalcore history (they were known to bring “a sledgehammer, pitchforks, an anvil and a gong on stage” with them, which sounds like some kind of urban legend) cements them as a glaring omission from the metalcore canon. Feasting on the Will of Humanity matches its title note-for-note in misanthropic fury, setting a clear tone on opener “Crawl To Hide” that they are not to be fucked with. Every subsequent track simply underscores this point, right on through “Fractured” and The Amityville Horror sample that ends the album with a disembodied voice hissing “Get out!” While there are plenty of heavy and angry bands, few can match the clinical precision with which For the Love Of clobber their listeners into submission, and even fewer of their peers had such a capable grasp on the dynamics of metalcore.
While it’s hard to argue that For the Love Of are entirely original, amid a scene that was still firmly rooted in hardcore, they were one of the first to incorporate metal tropes like the shreddy riffs that appears midway through “Silent Isolation” and dominate “Further the Shame,” or the twisted guitar lines of “Millennium,” taking great pains to keep their music as lean and vicious as possible. “All Will Be Rid Of” is perhaps the most well-rounded song on Feasting, displays surprisingly accomplished guitarwork that runs the gamut from panic chords to technical journeys along the neck of the guitar and houses some of the album’s wildest breakdowns. The album sometimes strays closer to hardcore (see the gang chants on “Flatline”) and sometimes closer to thrash or even death metal (“Immerse”), but Feasting On the Will of Humanity is unmistakably metalcore in a way that even listeners only familiar with later-wave acts would be able to identify, perhaps by the most superficial distinction: the use of movie samples. It’s not necessarily a new technique--plenty of other bands we’ve covered in the first-wave were doing it before For the Love Of--but it’s a gimmick unique to metalcore and proto-metalcore bands of at the time; one that Eighteen Visions would turn into a staple of the genre through its second wave. Perhaps they, too, like God Forbid, found a little inspiration in For the Love Of.
Structure is where For the Love Of shine, although it’s rather difficult (at least for a non-musician, like myself) to explain. They keep clear of verse-chorus-verse-bridge templates, but each song maintains a distinct orderliness, introducing a main riff, layering a different riff underneath it, and smashing both apart with a breakdown, after which the song detours into passages of shred or larger and more sinister breakdowns. The main riff(s) is braided back in at some later point, and usually ridden out to conclusion. It’s not a terribly inventive approach now, but it’s a stable and satisfying progression not so dissimilar from what second-tier acts like Unearth, Dead to Fall, and God Forbid were up to. Coincidentally or not, God Forbid are an East Brunswick-based metalcore band whose first few records, Out of Misery, Reject the Sickness, and Determination, bear more than a passing resemblance to what For the Love Of were doing with Feasting, and their eventual breakthrough with back-to-back Gone Forever and IV: Constitution of Treason offers a possible career trajectory For the Love Of might have followed if they’d kept together after their final EP, In Consequence.
Not long after their split, as far as these things go, For the Love Of borrowed Nora’s Mike Olender on vocals for a one-off reunion at Hellfest 2004, and again at New Jersey’s Gamechanger World in 2015. Neither show saw the return of the equipment of their heyday, but the band’s energy is as electrifying in that clip of their 2015 set as I imagine it must have been in the late 90s. Even more striking is the enthusiasm of the crowd, especially when you put it in context: for a band that released one album and an EP seventeen years prior, that’s a lot of activity and whole lot of lyrics getting screamed back. It’s hard to imagine many bands formed after For the Love Of exhibiting that sort of staying power, which is not to speak badly of their successors, but in praise of For the Love Of’s “it” factor. Who knows what led to such a high quotient of quality bands in the state, but we fully support whatever led to New Jersey’s late-’90s metalcore scene--and we hope that, with the imminent end of The Dillinger Escape Plan, arguably the state’s finest musical export, they have another renaissance on the way.
Wherein Brian hilariously overanalyzes a subgenre of metal!