Release DetailsLABEL Relapse
RELEASED ON 2/24/2004
Wreck of Nerves
posted on 6/2004 By:
In 2002 Relapse released this band’s debut CD upon an unsuspecting metalcore crowd, content with tear filled lyrical clichés draped in second rate guitar harmonies. Uphill Battle’s extreme take on almost blackened metalcore for me was one of the first real albums that took metalcore to a more extreme level. Essentially cranking up the hate meter and sprinkled with grating extremity, the end result played like Marduk doing hardcore, and paved the way for many more bands to add extreme metal in liberal doses to their hardcore.
So how does one follow that up? Well you wait for 2 years in a brooding state of malevolence, watching the pretenders stake their claim to a false throne. You hone your skills, develop your songwriting and let the masses salivate with long awaited anticipation. Then you release a sonic Wreck of Nerves, quite literally. One of the more aptly titled albums of the year, Wreck of Nerves sees Uphill Battle take the expected steps from their self titled debut. Upon first listens you can hear that the technical aspect has been cranked, as more concrete yet convoluted structures are rendered within the still caustic noise. Also, the extreme black metal elements are slightly less obvious, replaced by a straightforward nasty edge that puts them back in the swarm of the metalcore crowd, but with a vicious chip on their shoulder and sideways glances at their unworthy peers. To me it seems like a musical sacrifice that superficially gives them more credibility with “the kids”, but once “the kids” get a hold of this expecting an anthem chanting lip gloss wearing Hot Topic metal, they’ll be rendered into a dribbling, bladder incontinent mess. It’s almost as if Uphill Battle intentionally streamlined their sound to fuck with Atreyu fans.
Now don’t get me wrong, Uphill Battle haven’t lessened up or sold, it’s just more focused, there’s just not the pure chaotic venom of “Ripped Off Face” or “Forked Tongue”. It seems more mathematically delivered and concise. Even the production is a little cleaner than the acidic debut. Still, as far as dissonant caustic metalcore, Uphill Battle deliver, with copious amounts of snarling energy via a three pronged vocal attack and Ritalin dependent riffing backed by discordant percussion.
What works on this album is that it's one that requires listening in its entirety to appreciate, whereas Uphill Battle was spotty with a few killer tracks, Wreck of Nerves is an essentially sonic therapy; cathartic and often explosive from beginning to end-no riffs are particularly catchy or hummable, the whole thing is shrilling and cauterizing from the opener “Self Inflicted, through the aptly titled “Shifting Pain”, to the unusually lengthy closer “Conceptual Frame”, the album is the sonic equivalent to shaving 12 day old facial growth with a 1 blade disposable Bic razor. Whereas most metalcore runs you over or pummels you, Uphill Battle is more like being set upon by bees delivering sting after sting in succession.
A fine follow up to their debut, and an act that blazes their own trail in a genre of copycats, Uphill Battle are now at the top of the hill.
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