The inner workings of AMG Amateur Snob Musings Incorporated are deceptively busy. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes; between our editors perpetually cracking the proverbial whip in the name of proper formatting and the constant stream of new material poured into the promo bin, the blog is a well-oiled machine. Thus, even a minor wrench in the gears on the part of the writers is met with the most dire of consequences. Last week, that wrench was yours truly, as I turned in a late review due to a sudden bout of illness that caused last-minute work (and general annoyance) on the part of our editors. You know what they say: you mess with the bull, you get the ‘core. As I sit in the office shame corner spinning No Future, the third album of Wisconsin metalcore troupe Conveyer, a thought keeps crossing my mind: this could’ve gone way worse.
Conveyer is a metalcore act of the melodic hardcore persuasion. If you’re familiar with Canada’s Counterparts, they should serve as a recognizable jumping off point for Conveyer’s sound. Their compositions regularly oscillate from mid-paced metalcore chugs to neck-snapping hardcore drumming, and it’s in the latter sections where the band’s instrumentation is at its most inspired. Colorfully textured open-hand riffs create a unique dichotomy in context with the blistering kit work to make for some truly unique instances of conflicted adrenaline. There are still plenty of breakdowns, sure, and while they aren’t exactly inspired, they aren’t handled as mindlessly as I came to expect from Victory Records releases in my youth. They serve as emotional highpoints rather than bouts of brainless machismo, and when paired with Conveyer’s semi-frequent dives into post-rock spaciness, they can actually make for some pretty damn intriguing moments.
Of course, this is still a metalcore record, and as such it’s not free from the problems that have plagued the genre for ages, particularly in regards to Conveyer‘s performances. No Future’s slower moments can be particularly rote; the guitar and drum work lapse into predictable one-note patterns more often than I’d hoped, and when these instances are coupled with the predictably loud mixing of everything1, it’s difficult to keep my focus on the music. The vocals are totally predictable for the style, a mishmash mostly comprised of harsh, hardcore barks with a decent helping of angsty, annoying cleans and the occasional bout of gang vocals. No Future’s low points are certainly not offensive enough to make me want to turn it off, but as Conveyer is so clearly capable of crafting compelling self-contained passages, the record’s inconsistent compositions are more than a bit disheartening.
Not all of No Future’s tracks suffer from spotty quality, however. The ironically titled “New Low” is undoubtedly the album’s finest achievement and is enjoyable in its entirety, taking full advantage of Conveyer’s post-rock atmospherics and exciting tempo shake-ups by pairing them with the record’s most technical and effective riffs. “Haunt” is similarly flexible, cycling from weighty breakdowns to macho buttrock and even full-on thrash at its mid-point. The last few tracks could have benefited greatly from this sort of variety; though clocking in at little more than a half hour, it’s all too easy to predict the band’s rules of engagement roughly three quarters of the way through, where some of the Victory-isms (annoying vocals, breakdowns, etc) become more prevalent. The quality doesn’t really take a significant dip at this point, but greater track identity could have easily bumped my score up by half a point.
It’s been ages since I’ve vicariously kept up with the metalcore scene through the questionable tastes of high school friends, and while I only encountered Conveyer as a result of my own incompetence, I’m mostly glad I did. No Future is further proof that modern metalcore has more to offer for those who don’t dive headlong into the djent bandwagon, but it’s a tough sell for anyone other than genre devotees because it comes saddled with the same longstanding issues that turned me away from the style in the first place. Still, it isn’t half bad… well, technically it is half bad according to our scoring system, but you get the idea. If you think you have room in your diet for a side helping of metalcore, try it. You might like it.