Grind My Tears: .Gif From God, Massa Nera, Nine of Swords

That’s right it’s time again for your weekly dose of all things post hardcore, screamo, chaotic hardcore, and sass in this weeks Grind My Tears, the superior column to its cousin Grind My Tears. Last week introduced a new track from Texas’s own Lyed, once again celebrated the always wonderful Ostraca, and turned its gaze to the West Coast to put the spotlight on sass-revivers SeeYouSpaceCowboy. This week, however, will remain centralized on the (far superior) East Coast and some of the bands currently driving the scene there.

First and foremost amongst them is the beautifully named .Gif From God. The band, hailing from the consistently wonderful Richmond, VA, is similar to last weeks sass-revivalists in SeeYouSpaceCowboy in that they take influence from those classic West Coast sass acts such as Blood Brothers, but also throw in a healthy dose of screamo in the form of some heavy Joshua Fit For Battle influence. The result is a crushingly dark, moody sound that grooves about as oddly well as it pummels, making it both emotionally tense and easily fun. Add to that a flair for the slightly overblown (I saw them perform in Philly as a 7 piece) and you have a more than fitting tribute to those foundational screamo and sass acts that came before them. All in all, .Gif From God rehashes a lot of the old but does it in such a wonderfully exciting way that is essentially impossible to feel as if they’re simply retreading on old territory.

Next up is a band from New Jersey, a state that doesn’t manage to pump out many good things, but did pretty ok with this one. This is, of course, is in reference to Massa Nera. The band plays a driving blend of post rock and screamo, vaguely reminiscent of acts like Funeral Diner and …Who Calls So Loud, but distinct in a few key ways that help them to land on an identity all their own. First and foremost among these is an immense technical talent, something that is not foreign to the bands to the two bands mentioned above, but serves Massa Nera in an almost entirely different way. All three acts rely heavily on atmosphere and tight dynamic contrasts to catch interest in their music but where as the former two seem to dwell on the dark and brooding, the latter pushes an almost energetic pulse into even their atmosphere. This gives their music a pulsating, desperate feel throughout that sets them a mark or two above their peers and helps to distinguish them as a now essential band to keep an eye on for this most recent wave of “screamo revival”.

Finally we come to a band equal parts from Pennsylvania and New York, Nine of Swords. This band, unlike their peers mentioned elsewhere in this column, does not rely so much on the 90’s/early 2000’s screamo sounds. Rather they seem to lean into the roots of screamo, drawing influence from acts such as Navio Forge and Heroin, those brave pioneers who first took Revolution Summer emo to its more extreme, logical conclusion. The result is a sound that treads lightly in the past while still bringing enough of it to the forefront to feel familiar. It is crushing, no frills, emotional hardcore meant to cut right to the core. And cut to the core it does, pulling at the listeners heart strings before smashing them in the face with some aptly done socio-political commentary. It is amazing how one band can so elegantly dance the line between the emotional and political, but Nine of Swords does it beautifully, and with the kind of tact that would make even the most devout of emo-purists tip their in hat in acknowledgment.