I still remember my first taste of beer. I was young, perhaps ten years old. I believed I was grabbing my can of Fruitopia, but instead I grabbed a Budweiser. The dim light of the campfire made my eyes confuse the two, but my taste buds weren’t misled; it was a dreadful experience. Over the years, I grew to like beer and eventually love it. My next important first tasting was legitimately great beer, which was La Fin Du Monde at the Grad Club at the University of Western Ontario after a Heidegger seminar. My first taste of extreme metal was “Hammer Smashed Face.” Like beer, I wasn’t ready for it. I couldn’t stand anything about the song. Months later I returned, having started to “get” this death metal thing. “Hammer Smashed Face” became a song I thoroughly enjoyed, especially the devastatingly heavy riff about three quarters through the song (“Suffer… and then you die,” etc.). All of this is to say that when it comes to “melodic hardcore,” the genre attributed to The Pariah and their record No Truth, I already have a taste for the stuff.
Unfortunately, this taste was of the best of the bunch, namely Architects. Nobody performs this particular style as convincingly, and so it’s been all downhill from there so far. The Pariah aren’t a clone of Architects, though; whether this is fortunate lies with the reader. What The Pariah play sounds like something in the vein of Conveyer, Counterparts, or The Danger of Falling. This is rather simplistic hardcore mixed with post-rock, but each of the above bands takes different things from both genres and uses different parts to different ends. What The Pariah do here is something approaching Comeback Kid structurally (i.e., simple), but with a bigger emphasis on post-rock than their, um, Counterparts. Some parts managed to remind me of a far simpler Harakiri for the Sky, but this was reserved for some particular harmonies, such as those in “Strangled.”
The style of No Truth shines through best on a song like “Awake.” I’m of the opinion that adding “post” to anything makes it significantly less heavy and extreme in favor of being more emotionally expressive in an immediate sense; maudlin, if you will. The initial chord progression and main harmony are the stuff of dredging up painful memories over your choice of alcohol for catharsis, but The Pariah play with enough conviction as to make it a good listen. The ending of “Silent Birds” sees clean vocals used to a good effect, though not at the level of Architects.
The faults of No Truth seem like those of rookies, which makes sense; this is The Pariah’s first record. Too often do the shimmering post-rock chords sap the energy of the songs, such as in the remaining parts of “Silent Birds.” “The Monolith” tries to straddle the fence between kinetically and emotionally heavy, but seems to endure some testicular trauma in the process. The riffs become a sea of shimmering soup, making for a less than memorable listen. “Hollow at Heart” has what can only be described as a very confused breakdown. It’s got the simple staccato bludgeon going on, but instead of anything heavy, the guitars play—you guessed it—post-rock chords with a bit of dissonance. Like having Yao Ming dress up as Chucky for Halloween, it’s a jarring disconnect between form and content.
No Truth is the sort of record which suffers from trying to do too much or too little. I find myself flip-flopping between which one it is, and that won’t change when this is published. All of the songs follow a similar structure, sound similar in content, and have little in the way of quality fluctuation. In this sense, they’re doing very little; this strategy works best when your baseline of quality is more than good. With that in mind, each song is a brief affair, and in the short time allotted to each, The Pariah seem intent on trying to jam-pack hardcore kinetics with post-rock aesthetics into a small package, and it sometimes hits the mark. Much of the time, however, is spent awkwardly forcing the two to mix as if they’re the two remaining single people in a group of friends all in relationships otherwise. On this showing, the two styles just largely aren’t that into one another. Could it develop into something more cohesive? Absolutely, and I hope it does. The Pariah sound like they have potential.