Weekly Roundup: January 26, 2018
There is a never ending onslaught of music coming out. Each Friday sees the release of a slew of new records worth your time and notice. Here are a small fraction, rounded up and reviewed to the best of our ability:
Primal Rite - Dirge of Escapism
RIYL: Power Trip, Forced Order, Black Breath
The Bay area has a long and proud history of crossover thrash. Primal Rite are the clear heirs apparent to this storied throne, a lean, mean-as-hell band with deep hardcore roots and philosophy and a vicious, killer sound. Dirge of Escapism is heavy, brutal, and every bit as thrashy as one could hope for from this scene. They are also an unbelievably important band in the burgeoning new age of hardcore, providing a incalculably strong example of gender fluidity and acceptance in the scene in the monolithic Lucy, who fiercely stalks the stage in a crouch at shows with long braids flying behind her curled lips and deep bark. Unfortunately, where Dirge of Escapism really falls down is in doing justice to the powerful vocals of Lucy. While there is something to be said for adhering to genre aesthetics, the vocal mix is muddy and far away, many of them getting drowned out by the chugging instrumentals or just feeling so far away as to be completely disparate. Its a strong first LP, but its a band that is begging for the production confidence of someone like God City or the like to really let those fierce, Cleveland-Holy-Terror- influenced vocals get the sheen that they really deserve. Don't let it stop you, though. Dirge of Escapism is really solid and is going to make you stoked to catch them wherever you can.
At the Drive In - Diamante
RIYL: The Mars Volta, Sparta, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
Sometimes the boys in ATDI/Mars Volta let their instincts get ahead of them. Interalia was a surprisingly decent return from an incredibly influential band after nearly . 20 years, but one that sorely lacked the grounding influence given by missing member Jim Ward. Sparta has always lacked the wild extravagance and experimental pizzazz of his former bandmates' previous efforts, but Sparta has always proved themselves to be a consistently decent post-hardcore band. Diamante leans a little too far into grand-maestro and guitar savant Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's more angular and jagged tendencies. His music can be mind-alteringly progressive and stunning, or it can be overly challenging and downright opaque. Diamante, unfortunately leans more into the latter than the former.
Mammoth Grinder - Cosmic Crypt
RIYL: Power Trip, Gatecreeper, Nails
It's been a long five years since Mammoth Grinder's excellent Underworlds and with it, some of the bands relentless speed. In its stead is a slow, plodding brutality that seems designed to mow down people in the pit. The crushing heaviness is dark, heavy, and brooding, but dark, heavy, and brooding is now a a common thing, as, too, is there thrash and holy terror influenced hardcore sound, as has been mentioned previously in this very posting. Bands like Gatecreeper and Power Trip have galloped along with this sound as Mammoth Grinder has been gathering their forces. Cosmic Crypt is relentlessly bleak, frighteningly dark, and brutally heavy--but weather its enough to be noticed in a suddenly oversaturated market I am not sure. Its a solid release though, and deserves some recognition and some bodies in the pit.
Tiny Moving Parts - Swell
RIYL: Pet Symmetry, Algernon Cadwallader, Invalids
As far as I'm concerned, Pleasant Living is still TMP's high water mark. While Celebrate was great, and Swell continues the trend, I'm not sure that TMP's songwriting or vocal skills have evolved as much as their technical skills have. Their fingers fly through frets and notes with breakneck speed, perhaps only outsripped by the incredibly excellent and under-known Invalids, hitting what seems like a million notes a minute, but I never found myself moved as much as I was by Pleasant Living's searing authenticity. It is, however, not so bad when "more of the same" is as good as TMP actually are, and you can see the band trying new ideas constantly like subtle synths and over-recorded female vocals in some of the songs, giving them a coating of newness and freshness that is most welcome. Swell has a tendency to run together a bit, but this band is really great and when they hit their moments, my do those moments absolutely SOAR.
The Dangerous Summer - S/T
RIYL: Valencia, The Starting Line, The Get Up Kids
This one came out of nowhere. To my understanding the band had split somewhat acrimoniously after their 2013 record...or maybe that was a different band. Regardless, its been five long years since the band's last release. The Dangerous Summer has always been one of those band who have successfully and consistently elevated the emo-pop/pop punk genre. Where bands like All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, and Cute is What We Aim For seem perpetually mired in teenage angst and immaturity (and why not? many of us constantly are), The Dangerous Summer, long ago, began to follow in the path of the Starting Line; creating lush, mature emo/pop punk that yearned and triumphed and failed and hurt and loved. Their discography is something of a miracle, all things considered. This self titled release looks to me to be continuing on that legacy.