Even though these releases encompass a very wide sonic range, what connects them all is their defining feature of fun. Of course, fun only goes so far, but if there’s one characteristic that truly represents the way each of these bands operate, it’s their levels of energy and charisma that set them apart from their peers. Converge-inspired hardcore, 90s radio rock, and metalcore that takes their influence from Every Time I Die, these three releases are connected in spirit by their off-the-walls approach to whatever genre they choose to tackle.
Radio rock requires a highly deft touch to be memorable, and a certain level of personality to be enjoyable. It’s a genre that can easily be badly done, especially in a modern era where, let’s be honest, very few people still care about any new radio rock coming out. The era of the classic cock rock bands is entirely over, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still new music in the genre coming out: one needs to look no further than Devil City Angels to see that there are still bands releasing tunes that fall under the umbrella of this genre.
Almost everyone has, at this point, moved on from the Aerosmith and Motley Cru stylings of energetic, bluesy, cock rock (“Kickstart My Heart” is still a banger, though). And while Devil City Angels’ self-titled album is no position to start a revolution of new bands in this genre, they’ve still, on this record, crafted a selection of songs that sound like classics pulled straight from that era. Devil City Angels doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not: it’s incredibly standard, it’s absolutely nothing new (unless it’s considered a new thing to resurrect what were basically dead genres), and it’s unintentionally very silly at times. However, that’s where the appeal is: anyone who wants some tunes that are the aural equivalent of a new movie in the style of old b-grade horror classics like The Evil Dead should give this album a listen.
Devil City Angels – Devil City Angels gets…
The Black Antler’s brand of highly energetic, Converge-esque post-hardcore/metalcore is as lo-fi and grungy as it is fun. Across the four ‘actual’ tracks (the 3rd track is a 53-second interlude), The Black Antler steamrolls through punishing riffing, driven by disgustingly heavy guitars and drums that straddle the thin line between hardcore and metalcore stylings. Packing a powerful sense of emotional weight through anguished vocals that are constantly fighting to stay afloat in the mix, 100 Wolves is a fantastic stomp through what is, essentially, a long-form version of tracks from the seminal Converge classic, Jane Doe.
It’s hard to overstate The Black Antler’s sonic similarities to Converge. Although the tracks are, on the whole, longer than the average outings from Ballou and co., the same sort of frantic, semi-melancholy rage plays out across the entirety of 100 Wolves. And, unfortunately, it’s this level of similarity that cripples this release. Any EP is going to have trouble standing up against one of the greatest post-hardcore/metalcore albums to ever be released, and by staying this incredibly close to their source material, The Black Antler does themselves a disservice in the comparison. Make no mistake, this isn’t a bad release by any means, it just doesn’t exactly do itself any favors by refusing to deviate at all from its influences. For anyone wanting more Converge in their lives, this is a good pick-up. But, for those who feel satisfied by what they already have, skipping on this is probably the best bet.
The Black Antler – 100 Wolves gets…
For anyone who’s wondered what Every Time I Die would sound like with a lot less Southern rock influence to their frenetic metalcore stylings, there’s now an answer. I Cried Wolf is this band, and they take the same amount of fun, off-the-walls energy and twist it into a formula more their own: the absence of bluesy riffing gives them room to explore different facets of their hardcore-influenced metalcore sound. Their combination of mathy riffing and soaring melodies works wonders to make Hollow Heart a set of five entirely different tracks, that all have one thing in common: without question, each track is a total earworm. From the main melodic line of “Kensopia” to the fantastic chorus of “It Takes A Slave”, each song is incredibly catchy.
I Cried Wolf doesn’t waste time attempting to break new ground on this release: they know exactly what they want to do, and they go for it. Nothing on this release is even close to revolutionary in any capacity, but that’s not important here. The band does everything with such aplomb that it’s impossible not to enjoy, and even though their riffs are certainly nothing new in style, each one is packed with such an intense sense of energy that it’s impossible not to enjoy it. Hollow Heart isn’t here to challenge the status quo, it’s here to smash faces with angry metalcore, and in that goal, it absolutely succeeds.
I Cried Wolf – Hollow Heart gets…