It takes a lot these days for me to get into modern hardcore, particularly that which shows clear roots to certain subsets of the genre. During the late ‘90s and throughout the ‘00s we saw a lot of hardcore acts that started to infuse their sound with themes more commonly seen in metal, particularly death and thrash. There have been a tremendous number of bands who blurred the lines between straight up hardcore and metalcore but, as with any genre, there are some bands who just happen to straddle those borders better than others. Germany’s Giver is one such band that call on influences including Have Heart and Modern Life is War in creating their own unique twist on hardcore.
One of the hallmarks of many great metal albums is the way they build tension over the course of the record until it reaches a natural release point. The best of them build continuously to the point that a sort of catharsis is reached by the close of the album. Sculpture of Violence is no different in this regard except that it comes from the hardcore realm. The closing triptych of songs, “Imitation Dreams”, “Longing for Death”, and “Built in the Difference” provide a brilliant ending movement with the kind of work that extends from interesting song structures and playing with the dynamics of each in a way that pays off with something beyond just tortured howls and ferocious riffs.
But what about all that comes before? For one, the sheer audacity of “The Same Stream” to seamlessly flit through seemingly each and every form of modern hardcore in the space of four minutes is something to be marveled at. However, it feels a little strange that we have to wait this long for the band to truly display their full range. Once we arrive at this point, though, the album evolves into a free-for-all in the best way. The manner in which the buzzsaw guitars wind themselves around each other is, in places, mesmerizing but it would be impossible without the rock-solid foundation in the rhythm section.
In a lot, if not most, hardcore music bands get caught in this cycle of every instrument relying so much on one another that we get bogged down with heaviness on top of the same simply for the sake of it. What helps Giver stand out here is that there are so many layers going on. The intro passage to “These Words Are Rain” is a tremendous example of this. That the song goes on to provide some of the biggest, boldest gang vocal shout-alongs on the entire album just makes it that much more enjoyable. It’s elements like these, though, that provide nice call-backs to the trademark bits and bobs of the genre that fans will welcome. Whether it’s big sing alongs and mosh-heavy breakdowns alongside dirge-like passages, the band do a remarkable job of integrating new and old to create an aggressive update on a now venerable 40 year old form.
The bottom line is Giver’s Sculpture of Violence is the hardcore punch in the face that many of the genre’s fans should welcome especially in an age where, when it comes to the more traditional elements, it seems there are too many willing to ape the sounds of the past. Giver build on that legacy and expand on it in ways that show a lot of promise with very little compromise.
Sculpture of Violence releases Feb. 7 on Holy Roar Records.