Release DetailsLABEL This Dark Reign
RELEASED ON 5/8/2007
A Second From The Surface
The Streets Have Eyes
posted on 8/2007 By:
Okay, so, if the first words you read in regards to A Second from the Surface were, say, “The band is trying to figure out how to fuse grind with not only metalcore, but, simply, trying to relink the core to grindcore without losing what either has morphed into over the past decade,” what would be the first thought that popped in your head? “This is going to be some watered-down bullshit, isn’t it?” maybe? Or, “Ugh, a bunch of snarky indie kids who just discovered blast beats,” even? And, while you’re wrong, I understand the sentiment. Grind has gone through what black metal, power metal, and now thrash have gone through (though, not nearly to the same extent), this reinterpretation of older music as seen through the “everything is, like, so ironic!” eyes of the playful youth (You know, the “Let‘s start a joke band!” brigade). Those bands’ major flaw? How about cutting tunes that weren’t what they wanted to hear, but what they thought fans of the style wanted to hear, only picking up on the easily recognizable clichés and leaving any of the subtitles in the dust as they rode their somewhat naïve, somewhat mocking genre exercise to glory. Now, it’s regrettable that I even have to bring this up in a review of a band like A Second from the Surface, because the only trait I get from them is sincerity. I don’t think they dropped those meaty slower riffs in their songs solely so they could watch anemic hundred-pound teenagers slap fight on the dance floor. There’s a sense that they have strung their varied sections together because they like them, not because they think that’s what their audience wants. It’s refreshing, but not quite as refreshing as the way the band has borrowed from across a wide grind spectrum.
Okay, wide to me anyway, since I’ve become so used to hearing classic grind’s fusion segregated into the metaller side and the punkier side (and the gap between seems to just keep growing. At some point, a newer band is going to have a Funkadelic moment, a Who Says A Crust Band Can't Play Metal?! revelation if it hasn‘t happened already. It‘s okay to be Skitsystem, guys). And, while their metal excursions are limited to the metallic side of core (I keep hearing The Blinding Light in both vocal and chunky riff delivery), the fact that there’s any sort of genre intertwinin’ at all gives this album a bit more depth than most. Just check out “King Cobra.” A driving crusty punk bit crashes right into the kind of noisy yet oddly melodic riffs that Discordance Axis and Nasum started using at the end of their careers. Busy blasting follows, the opening three riffs repeat, and then we’re treated to one of ‘em big bastards of a slow riff, a midpaced near-groover (notice how the structure almost plays out like an Americanized Nasum, or is that just me?), before the band presses the gas and closes things out with another frenzied burst of aggression. Most of the songs on The Streets Have Eyes are in this mold, just with their own little unique surprises thrown in (There’s a bit in “Lips And Assholes” that I swear sounds like someone holding Haste at gunpoint and ordering them to play heavier).
But, it’s not the surprises that make the album, they’re just the icing. A Second from the Surface, with their active drum work, pleasingly familiar riffs, and dual vocal delivery (one being a kind of annoying midranged shouter, the other a deep growler. Like Uphill Battle in that respect, who the band shares a lot of similarities with), excel at making it seem like all of this stuff is a natural fit, that these genres with their different fanbases can be successfully put together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. And, most importantly (and this going to sound oh so unpersuasive), they sound honest, sincere, authentic; all of those words that you wish you could apply to more bands. I get the sense that they’re not doing it for the bucks, they’re doing it for themselves, that nice sort of “We built these songs out of stuff we like, we hope you like it too” attitude that’s so at odds with the way that metal and hardcore are yet again flirting with the ethics and ideals of big business. Could I be wrong? Sure, just like in life, when it comes to music, I’m wrong about a lot of things (Cue the gang shout of all the bands I‘ve ever reviewed: “NO dun dun dun SHIT!”). I’m not sure there’s going to be a huge market for this (Or, honestly, if I even like it. I will say this: great in spots. A solid “very well-executed” recommendation from me, if you’re interested), but, I have this really strange feeling that there are going to be a lot of kids that, a year from now, say stuff like, “Yeah, I got into grind/crust because of A Second from the Surface. They’re great, aren’t they?” And just the fact that this could be a crossover success is encouraging (Although, I doubt many will shift their allegiance from “my <3 beats in breakdowns!” to “my <3 beats in blast beats!” Len Bias: “My heart actually beat like that. Shit sucks“). Will grind purists dig it? Dunno, but at the very least, it’s modern and fresh (I think we’ll see more albums like this in the second half of the ‘00s) , and if you’re interested in metalcore, grind, power violence (The Slap-a-Ham-esque riffs are abundant), or crust, it might just well be worth a look.
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