Philadelphia upstarts BINARY made waves in the screamo/emoviolence scene in the second half of 2017 with a killer three-song demo that seemed to perfectly encapsulate all that one would expect from the genre: loud and rowdy, full of storm and fury, yet with a melancholy churning just below the surface-level aggression that served as a strong contextual anchor to the music. Although it was just one demo of roughly five minutes of music, it was more than enough to create a following for whatever came next; BINARY quickly became a go-to recommendation to those in search of new music from screamo’s heavier side.
As with any band that begins their career with a strong release, there was also a small sense of nervous anticipation around whatever would come next. It’s always a toss-up on whether bands can live up to existing expectations, especially when there aren’t multiple releases to judge against one another. That isn’t to say anyone thought BINARY’s demo was a fluke, per se – we’re not talking a single genius piece of music followed by the group disappearing off the face of the Earth or just putting out total crap – but when a band puts out something really good at the start of their career, it’s hard to not feel the excitement somewhat tempered by nervousness. There’s always the weird off-chance that a band can just drop off in quality completely for no discernible reason.
Commit More Arson proves this to absolutely not be the case with BINARY. A furious new EP that builds on all of the potential the demo showed the world, this emoviolence quartet uses the runtime of Commit More Arson to reiterate one of the primary tenets of punk-adjacent music for those who may have forgotten: it’s not about being original, it’s about being fucking good.
It’s hard to say this, really, without sounding like I’m ragging on BINARY to some degree (which I’m certainly not) but there’s nothing on Commit More Arson that people who have a decent handle on the emoviolence sound won’t recognize. It’s got the same types of polyglot riffs and melodies that pull in various measures from straight-up punk, post-hardcore, and powerviolence; the same riff-by-riff song structures; the same lapses in aggression that give way to moments of thorny, barbed anguish. It is an emoviolence release, and it is obviously an emoviolence release, and it is not trying in any way to be anything else.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that BINARY don’t have a demonstrably clear understanding of exactly what makes this genre so compelling: jagged guitars, distorted to the point of being nigh-unrecognizable, grind down tense melodies into murky waves of noise and feedback as the bass slithers beneath to provide some sense of structure to the cacophony and the drums punctuate every moment with bombastic percussive blasts. The vocals, of course, are screamed, and sound as though they shred the throat, bringing a sense of visceral physical pain to the performance that accompanies the emotional unease that all of Commit More Arson seeks to invoke.
Look, I’m gonna be real with you: there’s no reason to not listen to this. At worst, you discover over the course of Commit More Arson that you’re not an emoviolence fan. At best, though – and I think this is way more common – you find a great EP from a band that’ve been hitting the ground running with a couple of great releases under their belt (although, admittedly, the three tracks on the demo are on Commit More Arson so this album’s existence sort of negates that of the demo) and discover what’s definitely a high mark for 2018’s screamo scene. So, friend, go ahead and hit play, and enjoy yourself.
Commit More Arson is out now through BINARY’s Bandcamp page. It’ll be on streaming services as well, and if you’re into physical music, the lovely folks over at Zegema Beach Records, Suspended Soul, and Bottom of the Map will have vinyl up for sale soon too.