Every once in awhile, when extremely bored, it is easy to stumble around aimlessly on bandcamp under whatever preferred metal tag, hoping to find some new or interesting band. It is no surprise, that upon stumbling around in the metal or hardcore tag, one would find Meek Is Murder. In case you’re unfamiliar, they’re a Brooklyn, New York based trio that plays an eclectic blend of metal and hardcore and, fairly commonly, seems to be dominating the trending section of Bandcamp. Their music is reminiscent of early, spastic mathcore bands, such as Botch and The Dillinger Escape Plan, but remains rooted in a groove and accessibility due to the near abuse of hook oriented riffs that sets them apart from their contemporaries. These hook heavy riffs, easily and effectively drawing the listener in, often call to mind acts such as Every Time I Die, but without the distinct Southern twang. These factors have what made Meek Is Murder so interesting to watch as they grow, as it seems that they are more than happy to throwback to metalcore’s more defined, classic acts, but still come at it all with an attitude distinctly their own.
On Was, the band continues this trend, shredding through 12 tracks with their same level of laser precision and attention to hooks, but it constantly feels as if something is missing despite that. The Meek Is Murder “aesthetic” is there, and it definitely feels as if it is one of their records, but, seemingly, some level of the energy is gone. At the very least, some of the diversity in sound. Where as the hooks and chaotic sections used to build off one another well, lending themselves to the overall picture being painted, Was leaves something to be desired, as if everything blends too well, almost to the point of monotony. Take, for example, the first two tracks, “Black Lung” and “Flagship”. While both tracks are separate tracks, it seems as if they almost flow into one another too well, leaning a bit too heavily on a central riffs that sound suspiciously familiar to one another in the grand scheme of the song. This makes it almost indecipherable when song one, “Black Lung”, ends and song two “Flagship” begins. It does not help that both are about the same tempo either, or, touching on that subject, that many of the songs are the same tempo.
And lack of deviation in tempo comes with a hefty price despite seeming so minor. After all, in many of those slower, more spaced out moments is where acts like Converge have built their career, using those momentary lapses in panic inducing assaults of metal/hardcore to make a more mild, softer emotional connection before once again raising the stakes. Not to say that all metalcore bands MUST use these slower, quieter moments to build tension, but they do help significantly. They help to build diversity, something which Was is lacking in many aspects. By the time the band does slow down, it’s the final track of the album and it feels more like a breakdown from the previous song than its own, tension building moment. Meek Is Murder can avoid these tension building moments if they choose to do so. However, in order to go down that path, it is essential that they take a look back at some of their own earlier material and how they created anxiety inducing nightmares through chaotic, energetic songs. The variety might have lacked there as well, but at the very least it was easy to connect with because there was so much going on, providing room for interpretation. By trapping yourself in a cage of consistency (consistent tempos, hooks, etc), you lose some of your potential emotional impact, and the record comes off as somewhat one-sided.
Meek Is Murder has by no means produced a necessarily bad record, as they never truly have, but in the grand scheme of their discography it feels more like an awkward stepping stone than it does like a Meek Is Murder LP. The band is obviously trying to flip to a slightly more melodic, punk/hardcore driven sound, but in the process have pigeon-holed themselves a bit, avoiding their usual chaotic, break beat pace interlaced with hooks in favor of a more mild, safe approach completely driven by hooks. Which is not to say the hooks on Was are not still interesting, but in the grand scheme come off a bit stale, as many seem eerily familiar to one another, an even more dangerous concept when songs all rest at a similar tempo, making it difficult to decipher when one song ends and another begins. Was, while by far not the band’s best effort, is still worth a listen and provides an interesting perspective into just what Meek Is Murder might become. While it still has its moments, it is ultimately a fairly bland releases, offering up little to be excited about.