(I don’t really feel comfortable starting this review off without a disclaimer about this band’s name, so here goes: there are many people, myself included, who have struggled in some form with self-harm and/or suicide, and feel as though Wristmeetrazor is a band name that is tasteless and some degree of offensive. (Not to spoil the review ahead, but I think you’ll see this does not really affect my opinion of this album.) There are others who see the name as completely stripping away the sugarcoating of these topics and presenting them as banal as a statement of sorts. I’m not going to say which of these is right; I genuinely do not believe either side has a stronger moral claim than the other. I just want to make everyone who sees this band’s name and has a reaction one way or the other that this conversation is happening, and would urge those in both camps to try to see this from the other’s perspective before making any sort of moral conclusions.)
Wristmeetrazor has made pretty strong waves in the screamo scene off the back of fairly little music. This isn’t particularly unusual, to be clear; compatriots like Seeyouspacecowboy… and .gif from god have also secured quite a following in the scene by focusing strongly on quality over quantity, helped along immensely by a strong DIY ethic and intense word-of-mouth exposure (as well as, let’s be clear, being really fucking good bands). With three short releases under their belt, all from 2017 – a demo tape, and the diptych of EPs I Talk to God… and …But the Sky is Empty – seeing them drop an LP (by screamo standards, at least – it runs just over 20 minutes) at the very beginning of 2019 is a curious sight and begs a few questions, namely: how has their style evolved in a year off? How will the band adapt to the LP format? And, most importantly, is it any good?
For the uninitiated, Wristmeetrazor play a brand of emoviolence that has a strong jolt of early aughts metalcore, which brings even more energy to an already chaotic genre. Imagine Zao by way of Coma Regalia: the wild, untamed energy of the former turns the latter’s melancholic undercurrent into something frantic and truly furious. Any given song can be jam-packed with fight riffs, panic chord breakdowns, clean signing sections, and the quintessential screamo “octavecore” sound (this is a perfect example), all while usually clocking in at under two minutes. It’s bracing, energetic, and powerful; Wristmeetrazor play with a large toolbox, to be certain, but it’s all very aesthetically contained and masterfully cohesive. Never does their particular brand feel gimmicky or like either side of their sound particularly weakens the other.
One could, however, reasonably chalk the success their past releases have seen in the screamo scene up to the fact that with a paltry 20ish minutes of music out there in the world, it’s hard to even have the material necessary to develop a gimmick or get stale. Which is where a pinch of trepidation enters the equation surrounding Misery Never Forgets; I was personally worried about how well the band could adapt to a longer format and essentially double the size of their discography with one release.
Happily, though, Misery Never Forgets is the best possible long-form debut a band of this nature could ever really hope for. It adds new elements to their sound and tweaks some of the parts that didn’t work as well in the past, strengthens the core identity of Wristmeetrazor without leaning too far into turning it into a gimmick, and is generally just an all-around great release. Everything there was still to like about the band is present here, but with better production values, more energetic songwriting, and a generally stronger integration of the emoviolence and metalcore worlds from which the band was pulling (before I am told that those two worlds are heavily interconnected, I would like to say I’m totally aware of this, Wristmeetrazor is just one of the most stylistically obvious examples of this to date).
To be honest, it’s genuinely hard for me to think of anything to say about Misery Never Forgets beyond “yeah, it rules.” It’s a very strong continuation of the sound the band developed on I Talk to God…/…But the Sky is Empty and it’s already got me excited to see what Wristmeetrazor does going forward. I can’t imagine a stronger start for screamo in 2019 than this fantastic album.
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Wristmeetrazor releases Misery Never Forgets through Prosthetic Records on January 18th. You can meet all your preordering and merch needs, should those exist, through this link.