Austin, Texas trio Glassing’s 2017 debut full-length Light and Death quietly snuck out among the the year’s late barrage of high-quality releases. We only have ourselves to blame for missing out (and if you didn’t, why the hell didn’t you yell about this more?), but catching up on these guys now seems like prime timing as they’re working on their next release. Besides, making amends is simply a good thing to do, and blasting a record like Light and Death on repeat is a fine way to do it.
Taking cues from the early-2000s post-hardcore hybrids (including their emo cousins), Light and Death has strains of raw Thrice or Envy that peek through violent or patient wasps of murk and gaze. Propping up dizzying and punishing adjuncts to their post-hardcore eruptions gives the group the ability to take base jump-style plunges from emotive crests and and trudge up to the next brutal summit. Upon first chomp, this sounds like it could be a sexy new Deathwish Inc. record, but they escape the grasp of the label’s punkier reaches and regularly fortify their method with some damningly expansive and crushing shit. Still, Glassing carry themselves with a roughness and recklessness to keep things distant from high brow fuckery, and yet they’re nonetheless a brainy bunch. In a way, it’s been the standard for bands to “grow” into bigger/spacier britches, but Light and Death flips that approach on its head, putting chunks of sludge and sheen through the grinder to produce an uneven and stumble-inducing album.
Guitarist Cory Brim helps these maneuvers land with authority, confidently unleashing spitfire riffing alongside utterly engulfing and ruminative tides. Sporadic moments of more conventional post-y beauty exist, if only to serve as window dressing to their otherwise volatile disposition (especially on bookends “Life Wrecker” and “Memorial”). Bassist/vocalist Dustin Coffman contributes an intriguing two-pronged performance, ever-present with void-destroying low end and throat-shredding howls, conducting the group’s energy in a resourceful and condensed manner. This measured expenditure makes nearly every moment feel full-committal and exhaustive, both vocally and tonally (see the erratic “Berlunga” or the indomitable “Safe Hate”). Rhythmically demanding as this may be, drummer Jason Camacho works it, helping to squeeze out every last drop of intensity or drama, underscoring their unpredictability. When he’s not calling up blast beats where they can fit (“Human Height”) or managing sizable crescendos (“Jorogumo”), he’s pummeling caveman stomps (“Heavy Donor”) or teetering on absolute chaos.
There’s a lot to like on this debut, especially how Glassng tempers their aggression with less-than-typical post-metal sensibilities. Without devoting themselves to the time investment of slow builds, they feel like a heady sludge band offering up a technical take on hardcore, steamrolling each track with equal parts finesse and impatience, as though they’re wearing blinders to keep themselves from looking back or navel gazing. More importantly, this efficiency doesn’t leave listeners wanting – Light and Death proves Glassing don’t need to be more or less of… anything. The proportions here are delectable, and the niche they’re carving out for themselves is worthwhile. Fleeting as it can be, this thing is always onto the next, constantly pressing for the next smattering of disorder or cathartic swell, if only for a moment. All this being said, it wouldn’t be a shock to hear them go into an entirely different direction on the next go, nor would it be a disappointment to hear another examination of this beautifully unsettling soundscape. Until then, this trip is worth taking.