If ever the term spoiled could be used, do it now…right now because that is what Coalesce is doing to its listeners with the release of their latest EP, aptly entitled Ox by the way. Following an extremely long layoff due to (of all things) breaking up, Coalesce return with a ton of new material which this EP is just the icing on the cake following their full-length album earlier this year, Ox. Actually, the songs on this EP were written post Ox in what could probably be described as a fit of inspiration. At seven songs, OX (EP) delivers a healthy dose of that Coalesce magic for which people have continuously hoped would come from the band. And, for people into the band, this is just a bonus to an already exciting rebirth of Coalesce.
Ox (EP) is wholly intense from second number one as the pounding percussion that comprises “Ox to Ore” (a drum intro to a record is awesome) is quite simply the perfect introduction to the brutish harangue that is “The Blind Eye” crushes listeners. The rhythms on Ox (EP) are vintage Coalesce and give listeners everything that is uniquely what this band offers; driving bass guitar lines and angular guitar riffs synch well with the drum patterns throughout the record while all of the vocal performances offer a powerful delivery and an exclamation point to the songs that have them. The pleasant “Joyless in Life” and intriguingly crafted “Absent in Death” are both pretty songs that contains touches of sadness, and while they might only be a musical interludes, these songs are impressive in the manner in which they show the talent level of the musicians in the band; both also have a strong western motif in the composition, almost like the band has been listening to lots of old spaghetti western soundtracks.
Lyrically, Sean Ingram delivers more of his acerbic prose; the personal evaluation of “To My Ruin” is impressive with lines that many can relate:
The fear that I must have an enemy to motivate is all too real / But have I found my enemy in myself, or in others that see their own weaknesses in my work?
The music of “To My Ruin” is more of the angular and time signature warping goodness that hearkens back to the original modus operandi of the band, but there is also a bit of a curve ball thrown in with the triumphant sounding movement in the song (complete with a backing vocal arrangement reminiscent of a chorale explosion) to put the icing on the song’s cake. Perhaps what might be referred to as the crowning achievement on Ox (EP), “Through Sparrows I Rest” continues to showcase the Americana influence heard in “Absent in Death” and “Joyless in Life” (as well as what can be heard on the full-length OX) to great effect while still maintaining the power and fury that is Coalesce. And as Ingram bellows:
We excel at saddling a suffering on all those in reach / I can only see young cowards that plot against man and all his stock…Let me find rest through sparrows, who focus on the moments needs and do not stray from the facts.
Upon hearing Ox (EP), you too (I know that I am) might be asking if this is the year of Coalesce (in the extreme or heavy music genres or circles) as the band transcends the limits of hardcore punk, metal, what have you to create a musical tour de force that simply does not disappoint on any level (maybe being an EP is a knock but at the same time Ox (EP) certainly leaves you wanting more). From beginning to end, Ox (EP) is a scorching group of compositions that challenges and pushes the oeuvre and m. o. of the band. People will surely debate if this is the best record of the band’s existence and for that alone Coalesce succeeds in giving listeners an excellent bookend to their most recent full-length.
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