We’re back with another edition of your favorite screamo column, Chaos is Me, later than I’d like this time but that’s what happens when you lose both your router and modem at the same time and have to live in the pre-internet age for a few days. Fortunately, all is returned to normal, which is good, because this month we have some very heavy hitters to cover in this column, including an album I’ve been anticipating for literal years. See how things stack up under the cut.
envy – The Fallen Crimson
There are a lot of expectations to be had when one of your favorite bands on the planet Earth comes back from the brink of ending their near thirty year career with a new album after five years of relative silence. It was impossible for me to pretend I didn’t have a lot emotionally invested in envy’s The Fallen Crimson even before I got my hands on the promo. I wanted this to be the comeback story of the century. I wanted this to be an album that set fireworks off in my heart. So when I hit play the first time on the promo for The Fallen Crimson, it came with all that baggage attached. And I was disappointed beyond measure. This wasn’t at all the album that I expected it to be. It’s weird, at times incredibly dark, and dives into more unfamiliar territory than ever before for the band. It threw me completely for a loop. It wasn’t until about the fourth time playing the album, when I had finally allowed my own preconceived notions to fade away completely, that I realized this was already the album I wanted it to be all along. It’s bold, defiant, a statement of freedom (if you will) by a band that has long committed to treading their own path in the face of whatever trends may come and go. It is the most unapologetically envy that envy have ever sounded, from the gentle crescendo of “Rhythm” to the white-knuckle punk bruiser that is “Fingerprint Mark.”
It’s my album of the year for 2020.
Demersal – Less
Denmark’s Demersal describe their music as ‘blackened hardcore/screamo.’ A series of descriptors that leads one to believe that you’ll know what to expect from Less. And right up until about halfway through the first song, you do. It’s chock full of aggressive, chunky hardcore riffing, it’s deeply melancholic, it’s got a touch of black metal that gives it an extra edge, it’s all-around really good. Then the trumpet hits you, completely out of nowhere, and takes the mood of the album to a state that I can only think to describe as ‘transcendent.’ Whether it’s the inclusion of elements like the aforementioned trumpet or the conscious decision to give breathing room to balance out the overwhelming nature of the heavy songs here, this a much more adventurous album than your average black metal/screamo mashup and smart choices like these make the emotional impact of the songs on Less rise to a level way above the norm. It’s been a good minute since a band that I had previously never heard of before made me stand up and take notice like this, but Demersal have gotten my full attention.
Portrayal of Guilt/Slow Fire Pistol – Split
Finally, we have a split release featuring a new song each from Texas’ Portrayal of Guilt and Atlanta’s Slow Fire Pistol. I’ve seen a lot of people say that this is the best song Portrayal of Guilt have written so far and I have to admit, I don’t think I agree with that. “The End of Man Will Bring Peace to This Earth” is a good song, but it feels very by-the-numbers for a band that has made a name for themselves by pushing boundaries, and ultimately I think it falls short of the greatness I’ve come to expect from them. Slow Fire Pistol’s “Heart of Discernment,” on the other hand, is another of the best surprises I’ve had from a listening experience in a long time, an urgent and impassioned take on the classic early-2000’s RVA sound that doesn’t skimp on melody. I’ve gone back and binged the band’s entire discography after hearing this one song, and I’d encourage you all to do the same.
Until next time,