I'm still not completely sold on hardcore music, but if The May 4th Massacre's latest offering All Guilty is any indication, I may still be swayed on the genre yet.
Before I get to the good stuff, however, I have to mention one thing that immediately jumps out about this album: sometimes I just cannot tell if these guys are being incredibly, heart-wrenchingly earnest or uncomfortably feigning it. A lot of these pieces really want to be cathartic and emotionally draining, and they nearly get there. Most of the time, however, they come up just short of the mark. The spoken passages produce this sense of false honesty that seems to contradict the substance to the point of distraction. Though in theory the impact of a child talking about everybody around him dying is incredibly powerful ("The Warning"), in practice, it comes off as silly-- the delivery is just so flat and irreverent that it's hard to take it seriously. And on other tracks like "Flags of Separation", it's extremely difficult to imagine that the artists really feel so strongly as to need that many expletives. Then again,the final moments of the album ("All Guilty") are probably the most powerful; the repetition goes on just long enough to reach that emotional critical mass without going too far and becoming aggravating. "This world will live on, we will die out, and we all are guilty."
Of course, a lot of that is forgivable considering how great the rest of the music sounds. There's a clear heavy metal influence to a lot of the songs, which is to their benefit. A lot of the riffs are really fun and groovy, yet incredibly simple--they tend to elicit the phrase "why hadn't I thought of that?" with disturbing frequency. I mean, "Forever Isn't Always" and "Slayerfest 2012" aren't more than just some repetitive rhythmic chugging, and yet the execution is so impeccable that you'll still think they're the coolest things you've heard all week. And other tracks like "Godfather X" and "Traitors" aren't much beyond your standard heavy metal riffing and hardcore screams, and yet something in the simplicity of it all makes it incredibly satisfying. There are a lot of other cool surprises on this album, too. The opener "The Chaos" features this incredible industrial/gothic tinge to it that really highlights the subject matter well, and "Blind Faith" opens with some of the coolest chugging patterns I've had the pleasure to hear.
Though the album does feel incredibly cohesive and emotionally strong, there isn't much that's really new about it. If you're already drooling yourself at the phrase 'post-hardcore' then by all means stop reading this review and go buy the damn album already. I've enjoyed it as much as I have the rest of the genre, and if I'm being honest with myself, even a bit more so. It isn't much to write home about, but it certainly isn't bad, either.
7.0 / 10
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