With Pure Noise Records snapping up just about every decent band playing some variant of early 2000s metalcore, Prosthetic Records stepped up to the plate and signed their very own turn of the century nostalgia/homage act, meth.. Thankfully, the bedroom project turned full-band endeavor has more than enough substance because the period at the end of their name is a pain in the arse. While the Pure Noise crew are jocking the white-belt breakdowns and sassy screeching, meth. have delivered a concept album in Mother of Red Light that continues the tradition of classic concept records of the past – it’s got a pleasingly consistent delivery of ideas but basks in a little bit too much self-indulgence.
Anyone unfamiliar with the Chicago act might be better visiting 2018’s I Love You EP, just to work out where the erratic and seemingly copy-paste nature of some of the band’s stylistic and structural tags come from. “Fill Me” opens the record with some noise musings that wouldn’t sound out of place on a haunted submarine – one home to Casper Van Dien and an assorted B-movie cast. The rest of the track flits between blackened screamo and slide-heavy mathcore, not entirely dissimilar to earlier offerings. It’s a great first track, giving current fans something to clamp on to, and new fans a little bit of a lot of things to get a little bit titillated. It’s a shame the next four tracks don’t elicit the same kind of arousal.
“Child of God”, “Swallowed Conscience”, and “Her Womb Lays Still” aren’t bad. They just don’t do anything outside of what meth. have already shown on the opener; chaotic hardcore, moody clean guitars that are seemingly always on the edge of being out of tune, and drums that are either slow and laborious or frenetic. Maybe there’s more to these tracks following the lyrics sheet. Presumably, these are important pieces in the greater puzzle of Mother of Red Light, but then it has to be asked what relevance “Inbred” has next to these. Or at all, really. The plodding, monotonous beat and shrill effect-driven guitar parts sound like something Head would have written on an early KoRn demo if he had found crystal meth much earlier on in life. The track is in the anchor position of the record but it nearly sinks it.
From there, the record only gets stronger and stronger. “Psalm of Life” is the longest track (not including the closer and its four-plus minutes of noise) offering the most reward for patience. The simple chord progression is built on with rolling drums hit hard as all fuck and bass that churns underneath the skins and cymbals with a fierce drive. It’s genuinely a surprise when it drops out into more stomping chords, reeking with dissonance. Cybergrind gets a little bit of love going too, proving that the band can move outside of the lurching mathcore and Akira worshipping gloomy sections. A great closer that rewards the more patient listener with one final minute of shrieking panic signs off meth.’s first LP, probably leaving a few with sweaty headaches, and more with ringing ears. But only for those who made it. Well done if you did.
Mother of Red Light misses a mark or two with the typical mistakes of a debut record that reaches so far and so hard. Indulgent decisions don’t ruin it though. meth. know fine well they’ve got the talent, chops, and know-how required to make a stunning math/screamo/whatever record, that’s clear when you look at the abundance of stellar sonic blasts found here. The boldest decisions pay off greatly, keeping the sub from shredding the fathomless ocean floor, but it gets a little bit too close for comfort in that middle section.
Mother of Red Light is available Aug. 23 via Prosthetic Records.