With a name like This or the Apocalypse, you’d expect the band in question to have something profound and meaningful to impart, an answer to some yearning questions in the face of armageddon. Or, it could be enough for them to just repeatedly batter your lug-holes with a kinetic barrage of technical metalcore, as demonstrated on new release “Dead Years” to re-affirm your existence. On this evidence, the latter is in with a good shout.
The discordant, de-tuned kick-in-the-face that is album opener ‘Hell Praiser’ is one of the lead-in tracks of the year, as captivating melodies and guttural growls lay the groundwork for a record of far reaching scope. The flawless ‘Power Hawk’ occupies a space somewhere between Ion Dissonance and Bring Me The Horizon, yet manages to sound far more fascinating than anything either of those acts have released recently. ‘In Wolves’ dishes out layers of tech-laden breakdowns that segue perfectly into an instantly singable chorus, with vocalist Ricky Armellino doing himself proud. The melancholic melodic leads that infest the scathing ‘Americans’ recall those glorious early days when metalcore seemed to suggest that the future of heavy music was in safe hands before the swooning solos and bare-knuckled ferocity of ‘Hate the Ones You Love’ reveals an appreciation for the contemporary tones of former tour mates We Came As Romans.
The streamlined percussion of former drummer Brent Caltagirone, now replaced by Aaron Ovecka, drives the visceral ‘You Own No One But You’ on an upwards trajectory of engrossing polyrhythmic shredding, broken up by a sweet spot of singing that sounds suspiciously like Rody Walker of fellow forward thinkers Protest the Hero. ‘A Damn Moment’ tosses crunching breakdowns reminiscent of The Acacia Strain alongside some flowing melodies and what could have sounded like a dog’s dinner is rescued by the sheer skill of the musicianship on display. Guitars noodle all over the more radio-friendly ‘Gaunt and Fierce’ until the post-hardcore influence surges to the forefront as the track progresses while the restless ‘Kill em’ with Guidance’ toys with numerous options, yet never loses sight of its objective. Curiously named closing track ‘Hard Branch to Snap’ sums up everything This or the Apocalypse are about with its all encompassing range of angular riffage, chugging breakdowns and melodic dynamics. The pretty synths at the end are a nice touch too.
Far more thought provoking then one would expect, “Dead Years” is a record that tells boredom and convention to take a running jump. Nothing seems off limits to this talented 5-piece, with far more ideas popping up than is strictly necessary, but you are never in any doubt that the chaos on display is wholly intentional. Add that to a stellar production job and some truly embittered lyrics and it seems that metalcore still has the power to make you sit up and take notice. Who’d have thought it?