With acts very much rooted in the music of decades ago, Homewrecker paralleling early death metal and hardcore, for example, I find myself asking, "does this serve more of a purpose other than providing nostalgia of the heavy hitters in the late 80's and early 90's?" The initial explosion of both death metal and hardcore were equally spectacular. Yet as time passes, I feel that there should be a need for certain styles to progress and evolve healthily from their roots. While Homewrecker has proven themselves to be not only aggressively heavy but also tight in their craft. Upon landing at their third LP, Hell is Here Now, I have an expectation for them to push their music to an even higher threshold of quality and experimentation compared to previous records, Worms and Dirt or Circle of Death.
Luckily, right off the bat, I was assured that a sense of maturation and musical progress had occurred. If you were a fan of the steps the band took on their most recent EP, Extinction by Death, then you will most definitely get down with the concise, yet powerful tracks the band conjured up on this LP. While there are many different elements at play towards what makes this Homewrecker record stand out, I think the first noticeable characteristic was the production quality.
With Andy Nelson (Weekend Nachos) at the helm of producing and recording at Bricktop Studios along with Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Code Orange) mastering the album, one can certainly assume the songs to sound equally raw and clean. Although a majority of the album comes in clear and in your face, I did experience some minor issues regarding the production. On tracks like "Constant Eyes" and "Rope of Skin" there were moments that lacked that oomph. It kind of killed the pounding momentum that was built up.
The second most notable attribute on this record is the frequent and tasteful use of samples. Credited to an individual named Shade, many of the samples used help create a more dynamic flow through the twelve tracks whether it be as an intro, outro, or background noise to their chaos. The tortured, distorted screams eerily open up the album before "Burden of Self" and whirring machinery at the end of "Buried in Suffering" are solid examples of how the sampling is effective in creating an atmosphere for the band's hardcore-driven death metal. On a brief side note though, the use of an air raid siren during "Land of the Damned" was admittedly sort of cool. Yet, it is undoubtedly an overused cliché in any form of intense music.
As for the actual music though, it's pretty darn consistent. I can't say there were any musical moments that surprised me or went above and beyond, yet I'd say it was all strong, abrasive material that ranged from early death metal like Obituary to metallic hardcore akin to Hatebreed. Heck, "One with Torment" even brought me back to when I heard Death for the first time and "Land of the Damned" sounded quite similar to Slayer. Every track on here sounds fucking good on the surface. However, what truly makes the best tracks on here are the nuanced details that occasionally pop up such as the acoustic intro on "Rope of Skin," lead guitar bits in "Bound by Validation," or guest vocals by Anthony DiDio (Vein) during "Fade to Oblivion."
In an effort to bring this full circle—back the question of if Homewrecker's style of music is forward thinking rather than a re-hash of the past—I can conclude that Hell is Here Now is proof of their progress. As mentioned earlier, they didn't break any barriers. Still, their songwriting, attitude, and exploration of an atmosphere were effective. Other modern bands like Power Trip and Iron Reagan are in a similar situation; they present a modern take on an old style of metal in a compelling manner. I'm hopeful that Homewrecker continues their use of finesse combined with extreme music in order to break past the notion of nostalgia.
Buy Hell Is Here Now from Good Fight Records now.