A Textbook Tragedy

Rain City State Of Mind EP

Written by: AP on 28/09/2009 18:33:34

Originally this disc slid beneath my radar when it was (digitally) released in June, but following the hype trail it left in its wake brought me to the culprit - better late than never, right? The music of A Textbook Tragedy is described as floating halfway between Architects and Misery Signals, like the love child of Dead Swans and early Dillinger Escape Plan, making use of live recording to unleash one of the most aggressive, chaotic hardcore-cum-technical metal albums of the year. If only it were an actual album, rather than five songs short...

Beginning with a maelstrom of blast beat drumming, stop-start, angular riffs and frightening screams, "Destroyed in Seconds" ascertains that this band isn't out to make any friends. It's an uncompromising blast of raw noise that makes Architects sound polished, placing A Textbook Tragedy at the extreme of core, and while the music is technical metalcore at heart, frequent use is made of grassroots hardcore techniques like gang vocals and dissonant breakdowns - which, surprisingly, add to the sound rather than detract from it as is the case with most bands in this genre. These breakdowns arrive at exactly the right moments to produce explosions of sheer horror and reigned-in anger and sound more like the aural equivalent of a tantrum, rather than music, and that's meant in the good way. Just listen to the bloodcurdling ferocity in guitarist Kai Turnmann's growls towards the end of the song.

"White Lightning" continues in similar terrain with jet black riffs and a terrifying intensity that's guaranteed to send your adrenal gland into overdrive (especially in a live setting), while vocalist Chris Bahris and his counterpart Turnmann engage in a vocal ricochet of screams, growls, shouts and even clean vocals when the song decides to spill into melodic territory here and there (in the wonderfully atmospheric vein of Misery Signals, it should be said). Then there's the mighty "What's Pit Beef?", which sounds like a chainsaw cutting into bone instead of twisting and turning in the band's usual shambolic style, followed by "Lincoln City" which sees the band reduce their riffs to short, sharp blows and allow Nick Yacyshyn to showcase his drumming prowess. Queue the breakdown, and you might find yourself questioning whether it's A Textbook Tragedy or Meshuggah you're listening to, because the chugging is given a much jumpier rhythm than usual and laden with lo-fi groove.

"The West Coast Answer" brings the album to a conclusion, beginning in a barrage of dissonant chug-chug and gradually progressing into the oddest time signature yet on this disc and droning with ponderous weight before injecting pieces of hardcore punk here and there. As the song nears its end, it picks up in pace and melody and attempts to bring the album home in a formidable finale that never quite parallels the four preceding songs in its impact. Had it been given more time to evolve into something grandiose, or better yet, something genuinely intimidating, there would have been little else to complain about on "Rain City State of Mind".

Well, except for the occasional clean vocals of course, which are more distracting than distressing when they're given an airing. Nonetheless, "Rain City State of Mind" is a premier album in the fictional scene I like to dub horror hardcore: metallic hardcore with a punishing, relentless intensity and screams that sound like the devil himself spat them out. That it is recorded live only ups the fear factor because as soon as you slide this disc in, you will be challenged by a whirlpool of violent noise. Sound like your cup of tea?


Download: Destroyed in Seconds, White Lightning, What's Pit Beef?

For the fans of: Architects, Dead Swans, early Dillinger Escape Plan, Misery Signals

Listen: Myspace

Release date 23.06.2009


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