Another day, another metalcore recommendation from the fertile grounds of the United Kingdom. This scene has no shortage of solid metalcore acts, but in a genre filled with dime-a-dozen chopped up pseudo-djenters, it can be a bit difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Borders, hailing from Lincoln, are definitely on the right side of the metalcore coin. Approaching the music with a fresh intensity that a lot of metalcore seems to be shying away from, their new EP Diagnosed adds a fresh jolt of heavy energy to the genre, and makes them stand out as a band worth paying attention to.
This heaviness comes in two parts: instrumental and vocal. On the former, the band’s emphasis on a more bludgeoning style of metalcore becomes apparent on the very first track, “Analyst”. The churning, subtly angular guitar work here is a welcome respite from the seemingly random noodling of many lesser metalcore acts. Here and throughout the EP, the songwriting feels purposeful, with each crushing segment of melodious mayhem leading logically to the next without feeling stagnant, overly fragmented or dull. Part of this intensity and variety in sound and texture is due to an incredibly intense vocal performance by JJ Olifent, a new member of the band. His vocal delivery adds an even more crushing dynamic to these songs, while his lyrics cover topics ranging from personal tragedy to the pharmaceutical industry and its impact, bringing some unique variation and gravity to a recording already teeming with heaviness.
The above elements persist throughout the EP. “Comatosed” is a djent-influenced banger that takes the heaviness found in the first track and brings it to the next level, while Olifent’s delivery in this track is relentless and worthy of a good session of headbanging. Subsequent track “Indoctrinated” finds the band breaking into spacier, less suffocating territory sonically, and brings some pleasant and powerful clean vocals to the mix. After the beating the listener receives through the first two tracks, this tonal shift can feel a bit jarring, but one of the band’s strengths is taking these transitions in stride, creating a sonic uniformity that makes their shifts in tone both welcome and fitting. Final track “Watch the World Burn” takes all of the above elements and creates a fitting closing statement emotionally and musically. A fitting end to an intense bout of djent-influenced metalcore.
If you are a fan of the heavier side of bands like Wage War, Architects and Periphery, give Diagnosed a listen. There’s much to enjoy here.