Post-hardcore Retrospectus Pt. I

 

Retro

Warding off demons by day, pitching up in Camp Falsetto pre-dawn chorus, the combo sing-scream and one of post-hardcore’s many punk refurbishments begs a solid ‘yeah’ or ‘yeah nah’ when adrift new ears. A voice hitting all the right spots and just a modicum of the remarkable, punk’s younger, more articulate sibling can conjure quite a zest when given time. Likewise, if something well and truly misses the mark, all can turn to ash, leaving a wasteland and reputation for whining.

A decade plumbing these depths, it’s in the last few years that I’ve felt it decent to take a whack at how ‘nu punk’ works its magic, and if a new brand of old is worthy of a past punctuated by black eyes and mohawks.

A grand old grotesque, punk isn’t beautiful I don’t care where you’re perched. But isn’t that kind of the point? Post-harcore’s big swerve from Great Uncle Denim is the glimpse of galaxy, the wonder between all those safety pins.

In tandem, load bearers beauty and devastation keep captive those ears already attuned to a good bit of anger-babble whilst offering place for the grievers, the escapists and the dreamers. There’s still plenty of wall punching and wrenching out the copper wire but an insatiable lust-for-life to all.

An air of the irate, the continuation of protest tunes as old as the hills is undeniable, but those delicate new flourishes octave flutters, movement between soft and harsh, breathy ambience, and lyrics favouring working through turmoil personal or political add a mysticism to the mix. Gone is the idea of crushing life to dust. Why would you? It’s already gold.

 

Alexisonfire (Canada)

The streets are in distress, the sun suffocates behind darkened skies…

alexisonfire

Credit to one particularly grim stint of pillowcase folding in Canada, I’m of no mind that my first shot would have gone down as smooth if not for the unexpected guidance of a renegade housekeeping manager and diversion to the blistering Ontario snowdrift Alexisonfire.

Falling in love isn’t something you brush off in later life. Years on, it speaks more fortune than magic and when you find your heart set upon, there’s bugger all you can do. From This Could Be Anywhere In The Worlda scream of frivolous desperation at the Toronto homelessness epidemic, Alexis had me over a barrel. Punchy but sincere, Dallas’ funeral-march wail, George’s gravelly barks, Chris’ gat and Jordan’s blasting kept warm a spot by the window so all could share in a world slowly tearing itself to shreds. ‘Homely with a glimpse of horrifying’ suddenly answered why I felt at ease in such rough hands.

Patience when attuning to new noise is crucial (I’d been served this lesson so frequently it now may as well have come plated, with chips), so even with top-notch haunts of the Canucks on tap and my introduction to the scene sorted, there was still a fair bit of unwanted binging to get more of the good stuff. To claim fondness for a painting when you’re really only struck by that one tree seems disingenuous, so for a wee while, fandom found stasis as I continued chasing the aftershock to that emotional avalanche wrought by the Canadians.

Post-hardcore Retrospectus Pt. I

Periphery III: Select Difficulty

 

RiffSlip into the fray, slip between the night and day…

Countless retreats from new music’s murky creek has given me a renewed appreciation for patience. A lovely racket kicks off only to be met with hesitance? Perhaps it’ll be a few more years before I can make a good case as to why gutturals and walls of noise steal my attention like a seagull turf war. Keen for the stroll but never one to stay too far, if something heavy pops up, you can bet I’ll be there; though at the back, with a healthy hesitance in tow.

Washington D.C was the most recent victim of my arbitrary let-it-grow-on-you period. For years I’d written off Periphery as that great sounding band with the god-awful vocalist but deep down, I knew we’d get on if we put in the work.

Instrumentally, ‘Riff was cracking! Low-tuning chugged things and the odd percussion assault moved forward the melancholy when things got a tad too devastating. The vocals is where it all took a tumble.

The two styles of frontman Spencer Sotello (best described as ‘melodic nasal’ and ‘yelling’) did well to complicate my enjoyment of Periphery. Never one to knock a good whine, I too have my limits, and Periphery danced dangerously close to that… edge. For years, I’d veer from the D.C. djents. Not quite my cup of tea.

At its core, Periphery III: Select Difficulty is a metal record. More interesting is the tinkering it boasts to a genre adored by few, despised by most – the Rum & Rasin of the music world.

Rife with deviance and a subversion, P3 mucks with metal, pulling at threads and paying tribute to the genre’s strangest pastimes. Playful and confident, it curls invention around its finger and from pop-punk to 90s power ballads, the sixty-four minute symposium just dares listeners to pigeonhole.

Catch Fire punches with a 90s-fuelled bop and a snare so thick with reverb it could have been recorded in a cave. The Way the News Goes marks the album’s second act and puts forth a synth-pop & blast beat concoction a duet unlikely, but effective all the same. Not without pure slammers, P3‘s frenetic opener The Price is Wrong heads straight for the throat whilst brother-in-arms Motormouth continues the assault, putting forth a sharp-tongued manifesto against anyone looking to dispel another’s well-earned, headspace.

Standouts here are the mood pieces, those drifting closer to progressive ballads. Absolomb, Flatline and Lune all bring a sombreness to proceedings, lathering layers of poignancy and time running dry.

A band I’d banished to the hills, Periphery’s Select Difficulty is a sanding of edges to erect something eerily perfect. I’ve never heard anything like P3, and I doubt I will again.

Periphery III: Select Difficulty