Review Roundup: Constraints, Rorcal, VYGR, Wagers, and Yellow Knife
Reviewing and judging a hardcore band based on a three-track EP is much like giving a dog first place in a pageant after lifting its tail – you get a hint of what the band is about, but you don’t know much beyond that. Secret Destroyers is such a release – it gives you a brief glimpse into what makes Constraints tick – a mix of fast punk, strained vocals, and emotion – but the inconsistency among the three tracks hinders any definite response you can have about them.
The EP does grow as you go along; “Desperate Times”, the EP’s first track, is the most unimaginative; “Drawn Out” starts to reveal some creative riffing and original ideas; “Consumed” is far and away the best of the trio, maintaining the punkiness of the EP, while venturing into an emotional realm, its second half incredibly powerful.
Judging Constraints as a band is dependent on what track you feel like reaching your conclusion on. However, this is a review of the EP itself, which despite a strong closer, is inconsistent.
Wow, what a perfect contrast to the Constraints EP mentioned above. Heliogabalus is a 70-minute “doomcore” track by Switzerland’s Rorcal - an adventurous and ambitious release that is nearly too much to take in.
Heliogabalus goes through stages and soundscapes, which can be defined as; doom, hardcore, noise, post-metal, drone, and more doom. None of these terms shall be considered in the traditional sense, as they all seem to correspond and sonically overlap.
Rorcal have achieved quite a unique and niche sound with this record, a sound that could be better explored through more tracks.That said, this is one seventy-minute track that deserves the investment and time it will require of you.
After one listen through of Hypersleep, VYGR are going to sit just below acts like Kylesa, Bison B.C., and Black Tusk on the stoner/sludge metal totem pole. Fortunately, VYGR isn’t just about sludgy metal – Hypersleep is a surprisingly diverse record that shows a band balancing its numerous strengths into a cohesive sound.
With that, the record starts off with the very Kylesa-y “Solar” and companion piece “Flares”, before venturing into the meat of the record; The build up in “Galactic Garbage” is one to behold; “The Hidden” and “Shapeshifters” bare their collective teeth; “Unmoved Mover” takes you on metallic tribal journey; ”Event Horizon” provides grunt-infused emotion. Hypersleep features a few interesting interludes and instrumentals as well (“Orbital Hallucinations”, “-”, “Path to the Unknown”, the eight-minute “We Drift”, and close “A Distant Beacon”) that are all weird, but contributive to the mood and sonic theme of the record.
Hypersleep is a surprising record, especially after giving a straight-laced stoner/sludge vibe in its beginnings.
I appreciate a good throwback as much as the next guy, but as much surface appeal that Wagers‘s New Guilt has, it doesn’t have that indescribable “it” factor that makes you come back for more.
When I say throwback, I am referring to that old-style garage punk, full of floor tom rhythms and catchy chord progressions. There is nothing wrong with this. It just happens to be a style that has been re-popularized lately, and with that comes a slew of bands that realize that they want to do that same thing. It all bleeds together, whether certain acts are better or not.
New Guilt isn’t terrible – the music is fun, and the production is great (odd for this kind of music, but it works). It just lacks any staying power.
The only frustrating part about Second Narrows is figuring out exactly who Yellow Knife remind me of. I guess that is a good thing – Yellow Knife are a mix of a bunch of artists I cannot name, but can still hear. Does that make any sense?
To give you an idea of the band’s sound, Yellow Knife is a little bit pop punk, a little bit post-hardcore, and a little bit hardcore. I know, I know – none of this sounds unique, but the band really does have something to be proud of here. This is largely due to the lack of genre restraints they have put on themselves – everything works together (opener “It’s Past this Point of Everything” is focused on subdued vocals despite being more post-hardcore instrumentally, but does feature one backup scream for well-placed emphasis). Additionally, each of the four tracks on Second Narrows has a distinct identity, while (somewhat) keeping an overall vibe present throughout the EP (the contrast between the first and last tracks is a little steep on the surface, but similarities to run through).
Second Narrows is a welcomed and unique release. Yellow Knife are definitely a band to watch in the future – a full-length should be fantastic.