NAME – Internet Killed the Audiostar
We all set about to discover ourselves. Upon inspection of our endless introspection, it is likely we all search. From the lowliest cells to the firing nodes in our brains, our entire being seeks a place where it can settle, comfortable and content. Everyone goes through phases. We experiment with drugs and alcohol, we adopt new principles, we shed light on innovative policies; we open ourselves up to new things. No one knows for sure, but one could wager a bet that most of us will never rest easily in our own skin, just as most bands and artists will branch into new and unexplored territory. You’ve seen it a million times: a band you admire takes a complete 180-degree turn and polarizes its fanbase with a completely different record. The band doesn’t want to be pigeonholed, but they don’t want to admit that they’re stroking their collective ego either. So many artists struggle and stumble in their exhausted (and exhausting) attempts at finding “themselves,” experimenting and identifying the niche they can comfortably and contentedly snuggle into. Interesting, then, how a little band called NAME will never, ever have to worry about such a dilemma.
The New Approach to Martyrs Expressions (hence, NAME) hail from San Francisco and are currently a three-piece outfit. Keep this in mind as this reviewer attempts the difficult task of not slipping into gushing and endless hyperbole. First off, the band could technically be classified as technical metal. Second, it’s refreshing to hear a group from the Bay Area that doesn’t want to wear denim jackets and acid-washed jeans. Third, there is no way in Jesus this group could pull off their 2009 debut, Internet Killed the Audiostar, off live. With some research and surfing time logged (hello, Myspace), the tracks on here that have appeared elsewhere, namely album opener “Killer Whales, Man,” are actually pulled off successfully in the live atmosphere. Take a breath and prepare for the future of unbridled aggression.
Internet Killed the Audiostar is something of an anomaly; a top-tier mindblower that comes straight out of nowhere to knock its fortunate listeners flat on their face as it proceeds to assault them mercilessly (oh hey hyerbole). Lifeforce Records had to have taken stocks on this one because, just two weeks into the new year, a contender for the top 10 records of 2010 has already arrived. Interesting too, how three paragraphs into this review nothing has been mentioned of the sound of the record. It’s because words can’t do it justice. Internet is so deftly executed and so overtly theatrical that it demands a listening in full out 5.1 surround sound with a glass of wine and a taste for technically insane fusion.
Listeners don’t need to be savvy to hear The Dillinger Escape Plan during the opening moments of the aforementioned “Killer Whales, Man.” The first 20 seconds of the track rip into mathcore like it’s 1999 all over again, with jagged rhythms, offtime instruments and brink-of-insanity vocals aligned with the masters of the genre. The track twists and turns through a roadmap of Deadguy’s technical prowess, guttural slams by way of Wormed, tasteful breakdowns, early Converge harmonizations (see: When Forever Comes Crashing) and a wave to Pg. 99. Oh, and there’s a southern rock riff that features a cowbell and tremolo-picked muted chords. Every one of these styles is pulled off already by another band. NAME are fully aware of this, and they use this opener as an opportunity to dissect the clichés and fallbacks of metalcore while turning every rule on its head (read: It’s really GOOD). It’s as if the song is included on the album to expel all pretense and get all the influences out of the way. The rest of the album follows in a similar tradition, but this is the track that allows the band to tell its listeners that they will fuse many genres and styles into one song, but they laugh at the same time because they prove that they are actually able to do it well.
It is safe to say that Internet Killed the Audiostar is lofty in its ambitions. At 80 minutes, NAME maximize disc space to create an album (looks like they didn’t buy too heartily into the title) that evokes the chameleonic shiftiness of Between the Buried and Me (there are so many genres tinkered with on this record) but they do it much better than those waning prodigies. There is simply too much going on in this record to describe. Pages and pages of notes have finally illustrated to this author that the only rational thing to do is to actually pick this up and support the artists. The band experiment with varying styles including grind, death, post-metal, and jazz fusion, the last of which anchors the majority of this opus and proves not only that the band has chops, but that they are able to structure a coherent and consistent recording from such a disparate pool of ideas. The only weak spots include the uninspired introduction to the otherwise fantastic “Mare” and a quirky electronic interlude midway through “Dave Mustaine.” But still, this is one of the best recordings in recent memory and will no doubt make quite a splash in modern metallic hardcore. 2009 saw hardcore explode to new heights. Whether 2010 will see metal catapult once again is unforeseeable, but regardless of its status in the coming year, we can rest assured knowing there’s at least one document observing the revolution.