Album: Reborn (EP)
When you stop and think about it, “reborn” carries an enormous amount of implicative value for such a small word. The dictionary definition is simple: to be brought back to life. Pile on top of that the spiritual connotations of the word, and your definition takes on new light. However, how this word truly applies to the debut EP–Reborn—by New Jersey’s progressive metalcore act Borderlines is different still. Indeed, Reborn takes on a synonymous nature with renaissance, a re-birth and rejuvenation of the crippled, overdone and overcrowded genre in which they reside. Simply put, this EP breathes fresh life and fresh meaning into metalcore by using gnashing, vicious breakdowns alongside grotesquely grimy grooves and copious amounts of atmospheric brilliance to create a marvelous experience which will keep the listener coming back for more.
Reborn begins with calculated and tedious stagnancy–if this EP were a true birth, these seconds would be the last few seconds of relative peace before the water breaks and chaos reigns. The intro’s first minute of serene calm takes a jarring nosedive once the razor-sharp guitars and beefy, pounding percussion kick in, sending the listener whirling into a maelstrom of battering, bruising heaviness which wakes them up and opens their eyes: their Rebirth is upon them. The introduction flows smoothly into the first full track of the EP, “Reborn,” which does just that–it welcomes the listener into Borderlines’ sound with a fresh start and wide open eyes. The lacerating, skin-peeling nature of the guitars’ shreddy tone carves deep trenches into the firmament of pounding, earthy percussion and writhing, winding bass. Throughout the entire EP, the guitars can be witnessed doing this–making use of extreme levels of technical proficiency to differentiate themselves from the likes of their peers, bringing Reborn to a new and more intricate level of the metalcore hierarchy. This is not to say, however, that the guitars are the only elements of Borderlines’ technical arsenal. Indeed, the bass is perfectly capable of keeping up with the furiously fretted riffs, and the drums provide a fluid, but firm foundation upon which all of this is possible.
When Reborn isn’t taking to the skies with stunning levels of blistering technicality, it is whaling down upon the listener with vengeance and anger, creating unimaginably heavy breakdowns and grooves that bite so hard, you would think the album had fangs. Indeed, “Products of Neglect” and “Reborn” alike feature spine-crushing sequences of chugs so degradingly heavy, the listener would think they were being crushed by a falling skyscraper–for only seconds ago, the instrumentation seemed so high in the sky, one would think it was space-bound. These earth-shattering breakdowns, however, can vanish just as suddenly as they appear, casting the listener back into a violently flowing river of groove-laden guitar work and splashy drumming which only barley keeps them afloat, while the threat of another bone-busting breakdown looms just beneath the surface. These aspects of Borderlines’ penchant for the mysterious and brutality add a deeper level to the band’s music, and broadens the spectrum by which Reborn must be defined. For now, while there was tumultuous calm and technical majesty, there is also violent castigation—a sign that not all aspects of renaissance are clean-cut and peaceful.
It’s this brilliant combination of complete desolation and awe-inspiring beauty which create the fully dialectic experience found within Reborn. After all—how can rebirth happen without a figurative death to precede it? The complete annihilation which cracks the listener’s ribs and shatters their spine provides flow into the self-same geyser of technicality and dynamic songwriting which gives the listener new life. This entire dynamic is best summarized in the EP’s concluding track, “Interficio,” which pushes and pulls at the boundaries between destruction and synthesis to create an immersive, surreal and serene experience for the listener to bask in. This track is the climax of an entire album’s worth of construction—the pinnacle of the skyscraper, the apex of Borderlines’ snow-capped mountain. Without the unique amount of thought and effort put into Reborn, this summit would be nonexistent, or at best, unremarkable. However, it is far from that. The conclusion to Reborn is one which is just as beautiful as birth itself, and includes a comprehensive mastery of all that progressive metalcore is. Borderlines have prodigally shown that they have what it takes to stage a complete takeover of the scene–mighty impressive for a band with no previous releases under its belt.
Reborn represents a chance at a new life for a dying genre—water for the parched and food for the starving. Laden with luscious grooves, stunning melodies and devastating heaviness wrapped inside of a carefully written and constructed passage, this EP is one fans of the genre won’t want to sleep on. Furthermore, Borderlines offer a chance at acceptance–an accessible route into a dense and crowded style of music which will let the listener become exposed to a brilliant style of music with no filler and no risk of wasted time.
For Fans Of: Volumes, Ceruleus, Silence, Reflections, Visionaries
By: Connor Welsh