Disclaimer: neither I nor AMG, nor any of his affiliates, nor any affiliated bodies will take responsibility for the violent expulsion of blood from the ear upon playing the linked song, nor any other ear-related injury, self-inflicted or otherwise.
Let’s talk metalcore. The much-maligned genre derided by all the ‘cultured’ as trash, which shifts off the shelves faster than a jet-powered jaguar amongst those with ‘plebeian’ tastes. You, loyal reader, have disparaged the genre at one time, just as I did – there was a phase where the merest hint of a breakdown induced spontaneous and forceful ejection of my stomach’s contents. As a younger chap, I was taking my first tentative steps into the self-absorbed swamp that is metal just as metalcore was taking off, and I’ve observed its explosion and subsequent implosion with due care. I’ve fortunately progressed through my immaturity into uncommon and startling enlightenment and I now see the genre’s place and value within the wider community.
I’ve foregrounded this review with such documentation to impress on you that I’m not an unspecific and haphazard core-basher. You’ll catch me with Bullet For My Valentine and Parkway Drive from time to time, and I’ve found significant pleasure in Feed Her To The Sharks‘ latest. But Hail Mary is truly appalling. iwrestledabearonce is a band I had somehow avoided until now, and I’d rather the topic of wrestling bears had remained in my more exciting dreams.
I suppose the crux of my vehement objection to this album, the festering core infecting the outer layers, is the utterly insipid song-writing. Monotony doesn’t quite describe what’s going on here, as predictable blast beats follow uninspired breakdowns, succeeding incessant, angsty hardcore vocals. Attempts at focusing for the sake of note-taking were futile as I fell into comatose oblivion. I honestly didn’t notice that I’d accidentally activated the repeat function on my software and the same song repeated four times. There’s a rigid formula from which deviation is scarce and ineffectual, saved for infrequent forays into a clean vox on such tracks as “Green Eyes,” “Doomed To Fail Part 2” and “Your God Is Too Small.” I’ve just spent 116 words trying to flesh out the simple idea that this is so fucking boring.
If that’s the core of my criticism, then my next point is the shit orbiting at the outer rim: the sincerely fumbled integration of electronic sounds. Granted, the stock guitar tone rubs me the wrong way anyway, but the unnecessary electronic twang just makes the material a complete ear-sore. I’m not going to cite specific examples since it’s patently evident everywhere, but I can only assume this is a bold-faced case of cashing in on a current musical fashion. Electronic music has been bang on trend amongst a younger age group over the past few years, with popular examples in the dubstep, house and trap genres. The electronic integration here is superfluous and aggravating, and certainly doesn’t improve the music. See the conclusion to Justice for Saint Mary for how to do this correctly.
This album is completely anomalous to me because even other poor quality metalcore often offers hooks from which to cling in the choruses. I can understand why this is appealing to a mass audience who want aggression and catchiness intertwined. But only “Your God Is Too Small” is formatted as such here, and that’s tacked on to an end which is forty minutes too long in coming. There really are no redeeming qualities.
It worsens. Dynamics, meet your new best friend: brick wall! Someone somewhere has gone to great lengths to produce the music into mathematically-exact cubes of shite, boxing every aspect of the sound off then recompiling them. Any kind of melodic flow, improvisation or artistic endeavor is ruthlessly culled into a machine-like entity bludgeoning its way through my ear holes. This undoubtedly exacerbates the electronic sounds which I take such issue with.
Ultimately, I don’t mind slamming iwrestledabearonce since this will have the most minute of impacts on their sales, but I’m utterly bewildered that they’ve mustered 470,000 Facebook followers and a Century Media record deal (until they were dropped…). But hey, maybe I’ve been a little harsh. There was one bit which transcended the rest and raised me from the shitty mire to enlightenment: the moment I deleted this from my archive.