It's been a while since I've been this interested in a post-hardcore record. Native seem to have that effect on me. As a band, they're too often overlooked, brushed aside by most as another one of the many cardboard cutout bands watering down a once innovative music scene. Indiana post-hardcore powerhouses Native play a distinctly groovy and angular take on the genre, using precision and fury on Orthodox to craft one of the most intense and interesting records of the year.
2010's Wrestling Moves, technical yet catchy, was the sound of a band on the verge of discovering their potential. The songs were intricately composed, noisy and dissonant, but never without an undercurrent of pulsating percussion. For how layered their sound is, the magic of this band is their rhythm section. Perpetually deep in a groove yet never oppressive, drummer Nick Glassen is exceptional, delivering diverse and fluid syncopated patterns that manage to merge the battle between funk and force that's constantly in play in Native's sound. The buzz that Wresting Moves brought them, and the lofty expectations that come with such success, caused Native to almost break up, regardless of the fact that the majority of Orthodox was already written.
Luckily, the band found their way back to the studio. The recordings took shape as a mature and logical progression of their sound with the band displaying an immense level of focus. Orthodox is ferocious; the dense passages transition seamlessly into the airier ones, jumping from sludgy walls of noise into fast and chaotic sections. Native have a certain degree of math rock influence, but they're reluctant to show it, using it only to disorient the listener before punching you in the throat.
Native have also improved in their utilization of negative space, this change being most evident in vocalist Bobby Markos improved singing. Somewhere between a yell and a scream, his new register is cleaner and less nasally than on previous recordings. Markos has an abstract lyrical style, using his words as a brush to paint colorful images of isolation. Sometimes distant, sometimes manic, always in harmony with the instrumentation, his voice allows the tone of each song to manifest itself.
At 28 minutes, the runtime of Orthodox is paced extremely well. There's enough variety here to keep most fans interested: the stop/starts of "Books on Tape", the groove that "Brass" develops into, the hi-hats, barreling drumrolls and cyclic guitars of "Monday Night". Orthodox is Native at their most composed and cohesive yet; a fierce, enthralling experience that will set the standard for post-hardcore in the next few years.
Recommended if you like: These Arms Are Snakes, Kidcrash, Fugazi
8.4 / 10
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Posted Nov. 6, 2013, 8:35 p.m.
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Posted July 1, 2013, 6:20 p.m.
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