As with any artistic venture, albums can be a lot like a favorite painting, book, or film which, when returned to with fresh senses, lends us an all new understanding of the work than that which we initially took away. Some would argue that this is what the very best of art would do to and for us. It could be said that this is the job of artwork that, beyond mere existence, it move us in new directions, draw on our new perceptions over time, and evolve. In the case of State Faults latest offering, Calirvoyant, after a four year gap in releases the band have resurfaced with something harsh yet forgiving seeking understanding of that passage of time, life, and an evolution in artistic viewpoint.
“Dreamcatcher, Pt. II” serves as a bit of an introduction to the new state of the band and previews much of what we’ll uncover over the course of the other ten tracks on the album. In a way, it’s a cheeky show of all of the new toys the band have in their arsenal. It also serves as a very loud, very convincing statement that this will not be an easily identified and pigeon-holed record. This track highlights elements of screamo, post-hardcore, and blackgaze with almost shocking ease. And what of the rest of it?
In what feels like the first fully fleshed out, stand alone song here “Planetary” has stabs of At the Drive-In built into the hardwiring of this delightful jaunt through post-hardcore. In a hair over two minutes we get all the screams and thrillingly angular guitar riffs that we could ever want but in a way that won’t drive away fans looking for something with melody all without being melodic per se. It’s a high-wire act that the band goes on to deftly pull off over the entirety of this release.
There are highlights all over Clairvoyant that will make this a must have for fans of any number of genres. It’s punk. It’s metal. Deeper still, it has affectations of so many sub-genres that someone much more cynical than I might consider it reaching too far. That would be true if it weren’t done so damn well. Case in point, “Olive Tree” gives us a slow build to an emotive explosiveness that few songs provide as expertly, and perhaps accidentally, as this track does. It may, in fact, be the high water mark for the album with its nods towards blackgaze. There are even some strained accents of doom in the title track, “Clairvoyant”, speaking even further to the intentional and unintentional genre-bending that the band engage in.
Continuing this display, “Funeral Teeth” glances towards the legacy of Converge before becoming something more conventional within the realms of hardcore. Overlying the whole affair here, though, is the guitar tone of Johnny Andrew which deftly switches between the more lush and melodic sense of blackgaze with the sharp, buzzsaw jabs of chaotic screamo-style riffing. That’s all without giving proper praise to the tight yet lithe performances of both Michael Weldon and Jared Wallace here. As far as musicianship goes, there is no weak link in the band’s presentation. If anything, it’s a case of everything in its right place at the right time (signature).
“Contaminature”, which draws heavily on the legacy of Refused before it, also finds itself giving way to utter chaos halfway through the song only to create a sense of regained composure that resolves itself into a fading half-life of a soundscape that reignites as the opening to “Cemetery Lights”, the final salvo from the band on this moving and very deep release. In these closing moments, given a chance to reflect on the album in full, it’s quite easy to look at this not as trying to find it a singular home in one particular genre but possibly to hope that more heavy music will find a way to emulate the musical code-switching that State Faults pulls off so well here. More than that, though, this just feels like an album that will give you more with any additional time you put into it and most importantly, it’s fun to come back to over and over again.
Clairvoyant is available now via No Sleep Records.