While “rebirth” is probably the wrong word to use, it doesn’t seem inaccurate to point out that the sun is really starting to shine again on the chaotic, discordant mathcore/post-hardcore sound of the early-to-mid-aughts. As groups like Seeyouspacecowboy… and Vein rise to prominence in the hardcore scene, The Callous Daoboys and Steaksauce Mustache become the new babyfaces of mathcore, and underground classics like Me and Him Call It Us and The Great Redneck Hope see more veneration than they have for at least the past decade, it’s easy to see the tide rising once again in mathcore’s favor.
This is unquestionably a good thing. Although I’m still praying every day for new The Number 12 Looks Like You material above all else, I’m completely on board already for more great music in this style. Well-done mathcore accomplishes something to which no other genre can lay claim; somewhere deep inside the waves of dissonance and equilibrium-shredding aggression always lies a pulsing core of ingenuity and experimentation that manages to hit a more cerebral and intelligent part of the brain at the same time the energetic riffing batters the less-evolved, more directly pleasure-related segments of our gray matter left over from earlier days. It’s the well-done blockbuster action movie of music genres. It hits exactly the right marks on both an intelligent, human level and a much deeper, more violent, more primal one.
The new Carnivores At Grace record is one of the best pieces of evidence put forth in mathcore’s bid for “best heavy music subgenre” for the reasons laid out above. It’s punchy, immediate, and enjoyable in a visceral manner; it also features outstanding performances in its instrumentation and some genius riff-writing that is – for lack of a better term – really fucking heavy. Sonically, it leans more on the post-hardcore side of the genre’s spectrum, evoking Every Time I Die‘s earlier work and Daughters at times but with a heavier, more metal edge.
When I asked about the impetus for writing this record, the response I got was pretty concise: “We just wanted to write something that had a lot of feedback and was a punch in the gut from start to finish.” They certainly succeeded. Opener “Hell Is Empty” has all the subtlety of a thrown brick, and from there it’s a wild and off-tempo rollercoaster ride across the self-titled record’s 20-minutes-and-change running time through sledgehammer riffs and feedback-laden instrumental theatrics. The break in the middle of “Yahweh (And The Ensuing Fairytales)” that ends with a triumphant feedback swell before exploding into a straightforward punky sprint and clean chorus feels transcendent and exciting; the record’s discordant, crushing barn-burner climax on “Flesh Failures” leaves absolutely nothing to be desired in the ensuing fallout. This album is a veritable cornucopia for fans of the genre; it’s bursting at the seams with great ideas fused with exactly the kind of visceral punch that mathcore’s herky-jerky nature excels in delivering. Genre fanatics, this one’s a love letter to you. Eat your heart out.
Carnivores At Grace is out today. You can get it through their bandcamp page, which is where they’re slangin’ merch as well.