November is traditionally a time to give thanks, so I’d like to say I’m thankful I’m still here, and you’re still here, and I’m still finding incredible albums to cover for this little column. This month’s edition is coming a little later than I’d have liked, but better late than never. We have some truly standout albums to talk about this time around, so without any further fanfare, let’s dive in.
Frail Body – A Brief Memoriam
If you pay attention to anything I say, you know how hard I ride for bands from my home state. Rockford, IL’s Frail Body have long been on the short list of my favorite screamo acts from The Prairie State, and as soon as I caught wind we would be getting new material from this band I was already on the edge of my seat, and getting to listen to the whole thing (over, and over, and over) only cemented my belief that this is an act that so many more people should be raving about. A Brief Memoriam is a heart-pounding, urgent, and intense experience that has a tension that keeps you riveted even during it’s quieter moments. And when that tension breaks, the band absolutely explode, an unrestrained outpouring of raw, visceral emotion channeled into frantic hardcore full of grit and feeling that hits you straight in the gut. Do not be surprised to see this feature on my year-end list, and above all else, do not sleep on this band.
Toluca – Soras
Toluca are a name that is brand new to me, but this Russian quintet managed to make quite a sizable impression on a blind listen alone. Soras is a more metal-oriented affair than what usually gets covered here, but the band’s blend of post-hardcore and post-black metal is something really special. Rich, textured instruments mix with heartfelt melody and some truly off-the-wall vocals to create something that, to my ears, almost feels like a mix of screamo and DSBM. Surprisingly, this is not a combination I would have thought to make, despite the common themes of loss and despondency that anchor both these micro-genres together, and the match of the two on Soras is compelling and unique in its presentation among a growing ‘blackgaze’ scene. As an added bonus, the album’s final track “Sallos” features guest vocals from Kent Aoki of Japan’s Heaven in Her Arms, who are more than worth checking out in their own right.
Snag – Snag.
We’re circling back to the Midwest again for our final album in this column, although this time we’re looking to our neighbors to the North (no, not Canada). Milwaukee’s Snag describe their music as ‘Milwaukee River skramz about climate anxiety,’ and Snag. (separate and distinct from the group’s also-self-titled debut EP) captures all the complexities of living in a world where the wheels are off the tracks and no one seems to be paying attention. There is anger, grief, and hopelessness here but also a burning desire to see and embrace a future for this planet and those who call it home. These contradictory emotions twist together in the group’s music to form something impassioned and deeply humanizing, and makes for a stellar twenty-three minutes of music.
Until next time,