The demise of The Dillinger Escape Plan has left the mathcore mantle vacant. While there are many already established acts jostling for position (see: Sectioned / Fontierer). However, in these turbulent mathematical times, maybe what is most needed is some new blood. Enter Virginia’s Black Matter Device, and their full-length debut Modern Frenetics, who represent perhaps the strongest unsolicited claim to the title yet.
Black Matter Device don’t so much push the mathcore genre forward so much as they hark back to the more chaotic, jazz-oriented days of Calculating Infinity (1999). Yet, with Dillinger having seemingly pushed the genre as far as they could—both in terms of extremity and mainstream appeal—by the time they dropped Dissosciation (2016) and called it a day, maybe a hard reset was required. For a band who essentially wind back a decade and a half’s worth of progression, Black Matter Device sound utterly vital, and brimming with potential.
Sometimes to reset isn’t so much to regress as it is to remind, and the Virginian quintet serve as the perfect reminder of what was so shocking and exciting about Calculating Infinity and its ilk in the first place. It’s also one of the finest example’s of that particular style of mathcore to emerge since those early, volatile offerings. This isn’t to say that Modern Frenetics is merely a throwback record, entirely devoid of progression and new ideas. There are more than enough twists and turns thrown in over the course of its runtime to keep things fresh and the listener on their toes. “Presto Manifesto” is the standout example, with its melodic, ambient mid-section giving way to a final, crushing sludge breakdown, before “Shiver” kicks in with its brand of Dillingerisms and almost-Mastodonian dissonant death metal undertones.
Sequencing is another undeniable strenghth Modern Frenetics has in its wheelhouse. Whereas the afor alluded-to Sectioned and Frontierer releases can become tests of oppression and endurance more so than they provide pleasant listening experiences, the Virginians keep things interesting by mixing up their template and not being afraid to take their foot off the gas for a second every now and then. The end result is a record that flows brilliantly and actually becomes more engaging as it plays out, with later offerings like the morose “Gloom Balloons” and rollicking “Curses” among its most memorable.
You may have heard everything Modern Frentics has to offer done before, but you’ll rarely have heard it done this well. The record’s construction exceeds both on a macro and micro level, providing one of the most bullet-proof mathcore offerings to be found outside of the genre’s heavy hitters. The album is a monumental achievement for the band, but it is also (hopefully) only the beginning for Black Matter Device—providing a springboard for the five piece to launch their own trajectory and develop their tried and true sound down their own path.
Modern Frenetics is out now. Grab it along with the band’s previous EP over at their bandcamp page.