“I Can Tell You About Pain” by Converge
Its been 5 years since we’ve last had a Converge album (2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind), but if I Can Tell You About Pain is anything to go by then fans will be pleased to hear that time hasn’t dulled Converge’s blistering ferocity or expansive soundscapes. The opening title track races out the starting blocks with gnashing teeth, as jarring stabs of angular guitars and rumbling drums collide atop vocalist Jacob Bannon’s gnashing and feral screams. This short, stop-start blast of caustic hardcore acts as a perfect counterpoint to the longer ambience of the seven and a half minute long “Eve”. A real slow burner, the first two to three minutes consist of feedback and synth led melodies being layered with meandering bass, rolling drums and dreamy vocals from Bannon, before bursting into raw screams and haunted calls for the chorus. The track slowly builds up a creeping sense of momentum and intensity to climax in a barrage of pounding drums and searing guitar lines. Overall, I Can Tell You About Pain is a suitably concise summation of Converge’s powers: introspective exploration and visceral savagery.
“The Walls Will Fall” by Terror
Opting for a dirtier and all round nastier take on hardcore has served Terror well in recent times, and this five song EP of short blasts shows no signs of the band softening their approach. Utilising grooves and swagger alongside their crunching beatdowns has imbued their sound with an energy that keeps the likes of “Balance The Odds” and “Kill Em Off” enjoyable yet suitably brutal. There’s even room to indulge some of their thrash tendencies with the racing guitar and drum combination in the title track. Whilst there isn’t anything new or innovative on display, the band play to their strengths and keep things short and sweet by packing as much tightly wound aggression into ten minutes as they can. A satisfying, if somewhat predictable, listen for hardcore fans.
“FREEDOM” by Crossfaith
Whilst the blending of electronic music and metalcore has, thankfully, fallen out of fashion lately, Japan’s Crossfaith are still plying their trade albeit this time with a nu metal groove that has seeped into modern metal. The first half of the title track gets things off to a weak start with some typical chunky guitar work and electronic bleeps and whistles, before things take a turn for the weird as Rou Reynolds (of Enter Shikari) raps over an awkwardly placed grime segment. Whilst the other half of the song ups the heavy in a big, bouncy way it feels too little too late. Second track “Rockstar” is a cringe-inducing number that comes across a Pendulum B-side with some twee lyrics to boot and closing track “Diavolos” is a confusing mix of melodeath riffing, deathcore breakdowns, bruising double bass, pop rock choruses and synths. FREEDOM is ultimately a mixed bag of sounds and styles that veers from questionable to decent- a real shame considering how fresh the band sounded on their first Zion EP.
“Bathos” by Aborted
Arguably one of the best bands in death metal right now, Aborted continue to establish their place at the head of the pack. Within the space of two tracks the band crams in plenty of grinding, blasting and slamming to satisfy any death metal fiend, from the squealing, juddering lurch of the title track through to the technical drum and guitar barrage of “Fallacious Crescendo”. Aborted know just how to balance sickening bludgeon and brute force with exemplary musicianship and subtly ominous atmosphere to create an exhilarating, blood-spattered experience. The real star of this two-track tour de force is vocalist Sven de Caluwe who covers a range of extreme metal styles perfectly, adding an extra dose of viciousness to proceedings. Although two tracks lasting eight minutes is way too short, this brief but brilliant show of strength demonstrates Aborted’s incredible knack for writing disgustingly brutal and catchy death metal.
“Cycles Of Grief Volume 1: Growth” by Cursed Earth
Alongside acts such as Code Orange and Harm’s Way, Cursed Earth belong in a small revival of the ‘Entombedcore’ sound that spawned Black Breath and Trap Them. Much like their peers, Cursed Earth employ tar-thick guitars that channel the death metal legends, which is then filtered through the rhythmic sensibilities of modern hardcore. A large part of why this specific take on hardcore has taken hold lately is in part due to the way that these bands are willing to incorporate other elements into their potent sonic brew- Code Orange dabble in industrial and experimental soundscapes, whilst Harm’s Way rely on Sepultura-esque grooves and nu metal swagger. In the case of Cursed Earth its apparent that they draw from the Knocked Loose school of thought.
There’s plenty of sludgy riffing that keeps the bone-crushing breakdowns suitably nasty and Entombed-like, whilst vocalist Jazmine Luders’ higher register screams act as a contrast to the instrumentation in a manner akin to Knocked Loose. Similarly the band utilize changes of pace that veer from a mid-tempo stomp to grindcore style blasts that leaves the listener guessing every second- a skill that works to great effect on the opening salvo of “War March” and “Broken”. There’s little in the way of frills or bells and whistles here (other than the momentary change in vocal style), but for a brief shot of dark, grinding death metal inspired hardcore it definitely does the trick.
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