In Transmission has been a long time coming for the Lafayette, LA quartet. Over two years of writing and refining their craft, picking up a new frontperson, personal struggles and a global pandemic have certainly made it difficult for Capra, but it also hasn’t stopped them in the least bit. There’s a very good reason this debut is getting blown up by word of mouth and pushed out by a major label already. The band’s fresh, blistering take on hardcore and metal goes beyond simply being well-crafted music: it speaks to something deeply, profoundly human with an unrivaled emotional depth.
The story of Capra goes back to 2016, with guitarist Tyler Harper finishing up a stint in rehab and reuniting with drummer Jeremy Randazzo, who had worked together on a few projects in the past. The goal for the band was to bridge the gap between nostalgia for late 90’s and early 00’s hardcore and fresh, modern sounds. After adding bassist Ben Paramore, the band recorded an EP in 2018 with their previous singer (spoiler alert), showcasing their strong talent at writing angular and unconventional yet energetic and catchy riffs, but without anything truly elevating them above the rest of the pack. This time period in the band’s history might literally be referred to as B.C., because as soon as they picked up the inimitable Crow Lotus as their singer, everything fell into place. Lotus brings a commanding presence that not only compliments the caliber of musicianship she stands in front of, but also an emotional depth to the lyrics and vocals that transcends the boundaries of hardcore and metal. There’s a brutal honesty in the unique delivery of her vocals that is instantly endearing, not in a patronizing “look-at-the-girl” way, but in an empathetic way. It’s impossible to listen to her and not feel every ounce of emotion, rage, and passion in the songs, and it’s what instantly sold me on the band from the first second I took a random chance on “The Locust Preacher.” Thanks, YouTube algorithms.
“This band symbolizes that hard work, determination, passion, and drive can lead to success. We’re all very outspoken on our past struggles and intend to help others that feel like they’re in a hole so deep that they can’t climb out of it,” says Harper. In Transmission is an album that has been a long time coming. It was predominantly tracked all the way back in 2019, but without an actual release date, the band kept plugging away, adding and removing tracks until everything came together into a cohesive package. “We wanted it to be the heaviest and most complete record we could possibly lay down, composed of only the best songs we’ve written over years of playing together. It’s the best set of songs we’ve ever had, and we’re all extremely proud of them, and each other, so we hope it sounds like a total passion project – because it is,” says Paramore. One listen to In Transmission makes it readily apparent that Capra nailed that and then some. There isn’t a single track out of the eleven that comes close to being filler, thanks in no small part to the insanely talented and creative songwriting Harper and co. lay down. Every song is chock full of chaos and beauty, crunchy breakdowns, riffs that never seem to go the way you would expect them to, and of course, Lotus’ signature bark and yelp.
One thing that is incredibly obvious about In Transmission is how every member’s individual worldview helped shape this release. “I intend to give a voice to the people who are often overlooked. As a woman and as the child of an immigrant, I’ve always been drawn to the idea that people who come from different hardships deserve to be heard rather than silenced, especially since those very people seem to have some of the most interesting stories to tell,” says Lotus of the process of writing the lyrics for In Transmission, which cover a wide range of personal and social commentary. “The Locust Preacher” deals with Lotus’ struggles with sleep paralysis as a child, while “Paper Tongues” documents the rocky parts of Lotus’ complicated relationship with her mother. Longtime fans of the band might recognize “Red Guillotine,” from the aforementioned 2018 Unholy Graveyard EP, but the lyrics have completely changed from generic rock n’ roll banter to a scathing diatribe against the way society treats women. It is so incredibly refreshing to have someone like Lotus speaking loud and proud, especially in a scene dominated by machismo and masculine energy. Not only can she perform with the best of them, she serves as a beacon for anyone who wishes their voice was heard in the music they love. Of course, the musicianship keeps up with everything in spades. Effortlessly moving from classic hardcore stomps, sludgy southern crawls and shades of atmospheric black metal, every note feels like it is absolutely necessary immediate, and tightness with which the band operates is something that many bands with five times as much experience as Capra wish they could attain. It is impossible not to wake up with these songs stuck in your head. It is impossible not to throw hands while listening to In Transmission, even if you’re alone in your living room.
It’s a rare thing indeed to have a debut album from a band be this monumental and game changing, but then again, In Transmission is itself a rare thing. Genre bending, brutally honest and full of raw depth of emotion, there is almost nothing about this release that is short of a triumph, through and through. This has been my most anticipated release of 2021, and there have already been some big names dropping albums with more to come. Even so, Capra shine brightest by virtue of the love and care that has been put into their debut, and there is plenty more to come. The future is quite bright, and I for one can’t wait to hear more. In the meantime, I will scream about this album to anyone within earshot until my lungs give out.