Adversity and struggle are the genesis of a significant amount of great art, and Long Island mathcore band Car Bomb are no exception. Whether it’s touring and playing shows relentlessly and constantly, as seen in their excellent documentary [Why_You_Do_This], or losing the majority of their gear and rehearsal space in a flood, Car Bomb are the poster children for authentic, working class modern metal. 2012’s second full length album w^w^^w^w was a masterclass in weird, angular mathcore, and now, after an agonizing four year wait and much teasing, the band have released it’s follow up, entitled Meta. Can it live up to the acclaim and hype? Could it possibly be better than w^w^^w^w?
Yes, and yes. Meta isn’t a drastic reinvention of the sound Car Bomb have developed, rather, it’s a logical evolution and clear next step for their music. All of the elements the band have been refining since Centralia are here, and they’re all executed even better than they were on w^w^^w^w. From Michael Dafferner’s vicious harsh vocals and creepy, haunting cleans, to Greg Kubacki’s mind-bending guitar work, everything is still solidly glued to the same framework the band established on their previous two full lengths.
That said, the songwriting on display on Meta is of an even higher quality than on w^w^^w^w, with more dynamic passages, more songs of varying length, even better use of guest vocals, and more interesting and unique use of clean vocals add a significant amount of depth and variance to the songwriting. In addition, guest vocal perfomances from Gojira’s Joe Duplantier and Suffocation’s Frank Mullen, are both utilized exceptionally, their tracks both being standouts. Frank’s track, “Sets”, in particular, is a bit of a departure from the standard Car Bomb song, and even without the legendary frontman’s vocal performance it would still be a great track, featuring an astoundingly beautiful clean guitar interlude.
One aspect of Car Bomb’s sound that stands apart from their contemporaries is guitarist Greg Kubacki’s use of chromatically descending breakdowns and passages, oftentimes giving the music the sensation of collapsing in on itself. This, combined with often rhythmically bewildering tempo changes, makes parts of this record almost psychedelic in nature. Other bands have attempted this kind of sound, but none have pulled it off as well Car Bomb, and it helps make their music instantly identifiable.
Every track on Meta sounds different from the others, and it’s very difficult to pinpoint any single track as a standout or name one that’s representative of the album for this reason. Going beyond the mathy metalcore sound, Car Bomb have added liberal sprinklings of a myriad of other genres, such as melodic metal, death metal, and even sludge and doom, continuing and expanding the diverse influences they incorporated into w^w^^w^w. All of this is filtered through their chaotic yet calculated writing style, and never feels out of place or dissonant with the rest of the song.
Car Bomb have accomplished something quite special with Meta. w^w^^w^w was a fantastic record, with almost no flaws, but with Meta the band have upped their game by a staggering degree, and crafted what may be one of the finest and most uniquely interesting mathcore albums ever written.
Every single track would be quite capable of standing on it’s own as a single, yet they all flow together as a complete package better than either of the band’s previous albums. Centralia was rather more straightforward, w^w^^w^w introduced a weirder and more technically challenging side to the music, and with Meta the band have hit their stride and crafted a work that should be placed alongside albums like Calculating Infinity, Until Your Heart Stops, We Are The Romans, and Odd Senses.
Meta is as essential, relevant and important as any album released this year, and it demands and deserves your attention.
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Car Bomb’s Meta will be available October 28th, 2016. Pre-order packages are available via Bandcamp.