Release DetailsLABEL Prosthetic
RELEASED ON 10/17/2006
posted on 12/2006 By:
People need to be paying attention to what Prosthetic Records is doing. As I mentioned in my Kylesa review recently, the label is becoming a thriving haven for bands that are impassioned about the growth of their sounds. The entire roster, whether they succeed every time or not, is hungry. Almost ravenously so. The Esoteric is right along with the rest of them. However, instead of taking a heavier, more corrosive course of action, Subverter brings in elements that may, in time, make this Lawrence, Kansas-based band more accessible on a wider level. And damn if they don’t kick ass at it, flawed as they are.
Subverter is not a technically astounding album, nor is it innovative to any noteworthy degree. Yet it IS, without a doubt, a rigorous exercise in dynamic, occasionally stellar songwriting. Brash hardcore harnessed in eclecticism, and with wider metal audiences in mind, even during times of mainstream leaning the material here still retains a visceral metal/hardcore edge to it. Don’t fool yourselves into expecting to hear any of this on any non-metal based radio program, though. The easier to digest sounds that do pour forth on tracks like opening groove salvo “Destroy, She Said”, and spaced-out, nearly Cave In sounding “Shipyards Of Foreign Cities” could easily appeal to fans of alt’, or heavier rock music, but keep the aggression at a low boil the entire time. "Science Is Sexy", for instance, is a tight, staccato-based track wrapped in a barely restrained fury, establishing itself as one of the heaviest points of the disc.
The Esoteric really don’t let you get comfortable in one set mode for very long, and in this patchwork style of song assembly and arrangement they sometimes get ahead of themselves as far as maintaining a cohesive consistency, vibe-wise. “We Will Not Be Convinced” starts out with pure hardcore fury, and then switches gears completely into a fucking huge chorus over a hypnotic breakdown, which almost derails the momentum of the track. “Clone Culture And The Cut-Up Method” also ends the album in rather unbalanced fashion, full of wavering breakdowns, squealy guitars, and a nearly casual lack of focus.
Actually, the most diverse and varied songs are sandwiched almost directly in the middle of this album, with “Shipyards…”, “We Will Not Be Convinced”, and “Don’t Waste Guts” which features possibly the most magnificent arrangement I’ve heard this year. This six-minute track is flawless. The clean yet gravelly chorus is gorgeous in structure and execution, and immediately addictive. A mix of abrasive pinched harmonics, wispy nuance, and massive power chords, this song flabbergasts me every time it touches my ear. What happens after said track is rather puzzling, as just when The Esoteric had my head spinning, they suddenly go to basic, midpaced and uneventful metalcore with alt hints on “Our Exquisite Corpse”. They take risks and simultaneously play it safe in baffling ways throughout this album, with “Our Exquisite Corpse” exemplifying this odd aesthetic.
The musicians are solid as quartz, with Marshall Kilpatric’s percussive skill shining brightly. He has the exceptional ability to add tasty embellishments to otherwise simple structures, and in the process, increase the depth of the album by highlighting subtle shifts in rhythm and groove which might go unnoticed otherwise. The Eric Graves/Corey White guitar tandem does not fuck around here, and dominates the disc with thick riffs and atmospheric highs. Anthony Diale’s basslines do follow very close to the guitars, but avoid weighing the material down in bottom-end excesses. Vocalist Steve Cruz’s rasping, scraping growl is used more than any other kind of vocalization, and he has a tone that is just as glorious for some as it will be tedious and monotonous to others. He also uses more than one kind of cleaner voicing, bringing different facets to the music which could have been expanded upon to make this an even more interesting, or frustrating, album depending on your taste.
Hardcore with sights on brighter skies, Subverter gleams with promise. This isn’t rehashed second-rate Today Is The Day / Coalesce with an eye on the metalcore mainstream. The Esoteric is a unique, viable entity, which has the potential to create a monstrous work of art if they can fully decide upon a strong direction to pursue. I adore this album, imperfections and all, and even though I cracked down hard on this disc, it was a pure labor of love. If you’ve been impressed with the Prosthetic roster until this point, Subverter will not let you down, even if The Esoteric themselves still have room for improving an already solid foundation. A very polarizing effort, for now.
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