Historically speaking, the origins of post-hardcore did not quite come about in such a simple or chronological manner, but the long-lasting impact this broad branch of hardcore has proven to be the most significant and progressive in that there appears to be a focus on eccentricity rather than pandering towards an exact niche. Along with any other genre prefaced by 'post-,' the sound is difficult to pinpoint. Some may consider groups such as A Day to Remember or Hawthorne Heights to be part of the post-hardcore club, yet founders such as Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu truly encompass what the genre is all about.
Opening track, "Ashes or Paradise," is an epitomical example of a composition that fits the authentic sense of the word with similarities to the two latter bands. As "The Electric Drama" continues the combination of in-your-face aggression with thick, melodic hooks, it becomes clear that an emphasis on balance of these contrasting traits was established for the entirety of this album. This is not your typical Warped Tour gimmick or skinhead dissonance nonsense. These punk-paced pieces are built on insightful songwriting and passion.
A fair warning, a select few of these tracks will inevitably get stuck in your head, "Panopticon Blues" being the stand-out. The repetition of the 'We're watched/We're trapped/We're never alone' vocal line is equally intimidating and alluring. An Undertow-era Tool bass line on "Night Eyes" transitions into a mosh anthem while "Whistle Past the Graveyard" has a more youthful Melvins vibe. A truly praiseworthy feat for the band and this album is the actual fact that the energy and innovation does not fade in the slightest. Although straight-forward, heavy, and experimental would be the most prominent characteristics assigned to "Age of Denial," "Old Miami," or "Widow Rehearsal," they all find a way to finish off with a melodious verse in tact.
As shown in our recent video (shameless plug?), each member possesses their own unique identity and personality. And to connect that notion, what makes this LP work so effectively is all four members' individualistic contributions at full force. Guitarist Arthur Shepherd's rapid riffs may be the first noticeable element, however the rhythmic bass and percussion provided by Eric Odness and Christopher Enriquez respectively reveal further depth. As usual for the current New York hardcore scene, Dean Baltulonis handled recording and mixing of the record along with Dave Gardner mastering the eight tracks, resulting in a seemingly oxymoronic polished, raw production. A final kudos is owed to The Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist/Party Smasher Inc CEO Ben Weinman for directly supporting this band. Because of this, I can undoubtfully foresee Primitive Weapons listed with the likes of Converge, Every Time I Die, and other acts successfully blending hardcore and metal.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; David Castillo is one of today's most under-rated and significant individuals in the music industry. His side project White Widows Pact established the dark and visceral side of the genre, yet that only added momentum onto an abundance of catchiness for Primitive Weapons. Never have I heard melody mixed in with hardcore, metallic music so well. It has attitude without coming off as mindless and is perfect for workouts, joyrides, etc. Mind you, this record isn't for everyone. Don't come searching for technical perfection, but rather a sporadic collection of bold compositions that will force you into an involuntary frenzy of headbanging and ass-shaking. There hasn't been nearly as many obvious candidates as last year, but The Future of Death is a solid contender for best album of the year. As a sophomore release, Primitive Weapons exceed expectations while setting a high bar for future output from the band.