EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Failure – Gutterborn [EP/2014]

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Artist: Failure

Album: Gutterborn – EP


You have let down everyone you’ve ever known. Every single person who looked up to you, sought your council, called you a friend or loved you as family—they’ve all come to regard you with disdain. You’ve become a parasite; walking filth, scouring the earth for new prey—innocent suckers who have no idea you are or what you’ve done. You are scum, and Gutterborn is your story. Australian depressive-deathcore act Failure’s debut EP is raunchy, intense and manic from beginning to end, as dark, dismal instrumentation provides a murky, murderous backdrop for strung-out, throat-shredding and gut-wrenching vocals that are the truest musings of a man gone mad. Gutterborn is the bastard child of Thy Art is Murder’s ruthless brutality and Villains’ self-destructive angst—making Failure a band that is anything but.

The first to reject you was the mainstream—the hustle and bustle of society’s worker bees saw fit to adjust its path, leaving you left behind. You found yourself shunned, out in the cold and forced to fend for yourself and carve your own path. Likewise, Failure’s frantic—yet slow and crushing—instrumentation is completely different from the great majority of downtempo-turned-deathcore releases the genre has seen recently. Percussionist Dylan Moro is neither reliant on lightning-like blast beats, nor does he adhere to humdrum slow, beefy kick patterns. Rather, his drumming can best be described as angular, attacking the listener with bizarre, off-kilter patterns and fills that align Moro with the style of drumming that drives genre-blurring juggernauts like Barrier and Villains, rather than sticking to the safe and sullen stereotypes that plague a majority of deathcore drummers. Moro’s quirky, atypical drumming—best heard on the barn-burning “Choke”—serves as a stellar canvas for Failure’s furiously fretted riffs and grooves delivered by guitarists Dan Rae and Lloyd Hornidge. Hornidge and Rae do Moro’s monstrous percussion justice by eviscerating the listener with equally bizarre grooves that are neither chuggy nor shreddy. Rather, tracks like the immense “Stillborn” walk a fine line between raunchy riffs and crushing chugs, combining the two into a universally heavy experience. Gutterborn’s fretwork forces the listener to feel as if they are wading through a labyrinth filled with grime—lost, confused and practically drowning in layer after layer of fretted filth, amplified by the writhing, plodding bass work from Mitch Kelly. Kelly simply kills it, working with Rae and Hornidge to add heft and viciousness to the gyrating, rampaging riffs that provide Gutterborn with so much of its uniquely intense atmosphere. Between Moro’s drumming and the three-fretted monster Kelly, Rae and Hornidge create, Failure’s musicianship is as original as it is aggressive—and it is very aggressive.

Next, your friends left you. The people who swore they would be with you “through thick and thin,” they vanished. When the going got tough and you needed them, they were nowhere to be found. This caused your skin to thicken and your mind to grow hard—your heart getting cold and calloused from the bitter frost of loneliness. This bitterness—the raw, emotional disgust—presents itself in the screams, shouts and growls of vocalist Jack McAnulty. Here’s a question—what do you get when you cross Thy Art is Murder’s Chris McMahon’s lows, Aversions Crown’s Colin Jeffs’ shrieking screams and Villains’ Devin MacGillivray raspy, bitter yells? You get Failure’s visceral vocal champion, Jack McAnulty. McAnulty is simply magnificent, unleashing syllable after syllable of perverse, tortured hell. This is especially true of the EP’s lead single, “Callus,” featuring MacGillivray himself—where the two seem as if they’re toying with each other, trying to play a twisted game to see which is more insane. McAnulty’s lyrics are far from one-dimensional, however—as his themes range from the topic of true evil in “014212,” to an entire cavalcade of crushing, vengeful depression in the emotionally immense “Stillborn.” Each track on Gutterborn feels like a tell-all, where McAnulty is spilling his guts to the listener, drowning them in equal amounts of contempt and sorrow.

Last—but certainly not least—your family left you; completely written off as a lost cause, depressed and destined to die alone, they figured even they could not save you. There is no one standing by your side: you are alone. Failure are simply without peer or equal. When they are heavy, they are remorseless, unthinking, unfeeling machines, crushing the listener in a wood chipper of shredding, lacerating brutality. However, even at their heaviest, they are completely atypical, functioning in perfect unison to immerse the listener in the completely unique experience that is Gutterborn. Whether it’s the bitter, shrill atmosphere of “Widower,” the frantic, energetic insanity of “Callus,” or the epic, awe-inspiring “Stillborn,” Failure cover a variety of styles and draw from an enormous melting pot of influences throughout Gutterborn. The only thing that’s more magnificent than the diversity of the EP is how consistently intense it is. No matter what the lads in Failure are doing, they are doing it with every ounce of their being, never dipping beneath 100% intensity, but often pushing to exceed it.

Alone. Never has there been a release as evil, emotional, intense or enamoring as Failure’s Gutterborn manages to be. Refusing to sacrifice feeling for fury, nor lurid heaviness for lobotomizing insanity, Failure’s debut EP is simply a release that is too immense to fail.



For Fans Of: Barrier, Villains, Thy Art is Murder, Kingmaker, Traitors, Sworn In

By: Connor Welsh