The choice to leave the label system and release a new LP on their own is one that 156/Silence made without hesitation; taking their future firmly in their own hands and making sure that new LP Irrational Pull gave no quarter. The Pittsburgh metal/core outfit stirred the pot quite successfully with Undercover Scumbag‘s furious and candescent battery in 2018, but this new endeavour is a different bag entirely. Fully realised and with some mad, bad intentions, the young riot act have embraced the responsibilities and pressures of being in charge and weaponised them very, very astutely.
At a time when there are more than a handful of decent metallic hardcore bands with burgeoning followings, 156 couldn’t have picked a better squad to help them flesh out the creepy carnival cum claustrophobic bullying of their rowdy metalcore sound. Produced by Andy Nelson (Weekend Nachos) and mastered at Audioesiege, every skull-crushing element of Irrational Pull folds together in a huge sounding record – front to back. Having such slick and pummeling production instantly stands the record a few heads above the rest of the baying pack. Whether it’s the positively filthy bass and bedlam on “Upset Unfed” or the snapping snare and kick grooves on “Problem Addict”, the young acts vivid blend of early 00’s metalcore and modern retelling of “nu” metal sounds absolutely huge.
156’s tinkering with styles and textures has been an ever-present in their short but superlative career thus far; sliding from brute aggression with hardcore to the pleasantly structured “post” vibes that permeate throughout this record. The back-and-forth of the Glassjaw stylings in “Upset Unfed” probably shouldn’t work so well alongside the whip and crack of the cutting edge metallic hardcore that surrounds it – but it really does. The spoken word and fuzzy basslines on the title track and initial single have a distinctly turn-of-the-century vibe, and it was an exemplary choice for a lead single; giving new listeners something sultry and dangerous to get into while letting old fans know that the toybox is being tipped over. Most early reviews have spoken highly of the band’s seamless shifting between devastatingly hard ‘core and more sombre moments, and quite rightly so. They do it so effortlessly, and to great effect.
With all the fervour of a band attacking the world for the first time, the Pittsburgh natives still haven’t lost the impetus to make rowdy wrecking balls either. It’s all fine and well, giving credit to the band for emerging as a nu beast entirely but the people want riffs and whammy screeches and panned guitars playing off of each other in bloody earnest. Thankfully, there’s plenty of that. Pick a track and you’re going to get to a guitar swung behind the back, forward flip off the stage moment; usually accompanied by very careful build-up, with no cut and paste parts to be found in the entire run-time of Irrational Pull. All of this carefully sculpted chaos comes to a head in the records denouement, “Denouement”. An expansive, emotionally charged epic, the finale feels deserved after twenty-five minutes of pounding headache savagery. It feels like the most fiercely charged Thrice track that never did exist, but still contains that uniquely 156 spin on things. For what it’s worth, my favourite closing track of the year 2020.
Irrational Pull has to be heard by anyone who desires creativity and calamity in their heavy music. While 156’Silence’s influences and hearts are worn proudly on their sleeves, there’s always the chance that they’ll rip their shirts off and spin off in a new direction entirely. That’s what makes this mesmerising metallic hardcore record so addictive. Between little flourishes of the dissonant duelling guitars or the ghost notes tucked away in the whip-crack grooves, there’s plenty to dig into on repeat listens. There are few records as obtuse in the big dumb riffery as they are serene in the introspective moments. Top-notch, ultra-tier mayhem.
Irrational Pull drops June 5th, and is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.