Album: Irrational Pull
On a molecular level, the chaos that governs thermodynamic and quantum physics makes sense. Random atomic motion is just that—random—it is unthinking, unwavering and purely unpredictable. As we zoom out, however, we start to see order emerge. We see electrons and neutrons form matter; we see matter organize into structure—sediment, stone, flesh and bone. These creatures of higher order—us—act not out of mayhem, chaos and entropy but out of passion, curiosity and desire. We don’t collide without purpose—we’re guided by something intangible to one another—we’re victims of an Irrational Pull. This notion, an intangible channeling of molecular chaos, is the very same energy that drives 156/Silence’s 2020 full length record. Irrational Pull is a powerhouse. Simply put, it stands to be one of the biggest, most diverse and raw releases the genre has seen this year and possibly in some time before that. With moments of eerie atmosphere to break up brutalizing breakdowns and sharp, metallic riffs, Irrational Pull is a fresh metalcore record that reminds the listener of all the excellent things the genre truly has to offer.
Irrational Pull sees 156/Silence build upon the eerie—or more bluntly, weird—stylings of their previous record, Undercover Scumbag. However, where much of Undercover Scumbag felt as if it were trying a little too hard to be “out there,” Irrational Pull nails it to a tee. Built on a backbone of bold, unrelenting metalcore, 156/Silence’s 2020 barnburner takes all the staples of traditional and contemporary metalcore and adds a creepy, cryptic flair—abundantly evident on lead single and titular track “Irrational Pull,” but sprinkled elsewhere throughout the record, be it in “High Dive in a Low Well” or “A Taste of Ashes.” Regardless of the track, however, the truth is this: 156/Silence put their all into the instrumentation that serves as the soundscape for the entire record. From the explosive one-two punch of “High Dive in a Low Well” and “God’s Departure” to the raunchy “By a Thread, I Suspend” and all the way to the final seconds of “Denouement,” the band never lets up. Driven, dynamic percussion provides catchy, fun patterns that contrast against bare-bones, simplistic segments and flashy fills, tastefully running the gamut on –core percussion. Meanwhile, beefy bass pumps up the metallic, energetic moments and weighs down the crushing breakdowns that define songs like “By a Thread, I Suspend.” Elsewhere, on songs like “Irrational Pull,” the bass establishes a smooth, stunning dialogue with guitars that add nu metal, post-metal and even more off-the-wall styles mixed between shellings from an arsenal of aggressive metalcore fretwork. “Problem Addict,” as well as “Conflict of Interest” see the band’s dynamic working to create a comprehensive take on contemporary metalcore, where “By A Thread, I Suspend” is an all-out attack on the listener, and the record’s title track is more subdued (for the most part). The point is that 156/Silence do a lot of what one would hope to hear in a metalcore record, but the fashion in which they do it—and the things they add in combination with the monotony and predictability they lack—is what stands to make Irrational Pull such an incredible testament to the genre.
Many of the oddities that made Undercover Scumbag such a divisive effort remain on Irrational Pull, but expanded upon and perfected through a more mature and intense lens. Take, for example, the record’s lead single (and title track). Here, we see perhaps the most vocal variety, where the band uses everything from spoken word to shrill shouts to assault the listener’s sanity. Not all tracks are this bizarre in their approach to creating a unique environment, but all of the tracks do create that same aforementioned environment. Irrational Pull is an incredibly unique record, in great part to 156/Silence’s vocal effort, which uses lyrics that feel like something out of an old He is Legend record with vocals that could just as easily be 2018 metalcore, mid-2000s Norma Jean or late-2000s nu-metal—and it makes sense, which is probably the single hardest thing to wrap one’s head around. “Irrational Pull” or “High Dive in a Low Well” see more overt nu-metal stylings clashed against contemporary metalcore, where “Problem Addict” or “Conflict of Interest” feel more like an homage to tried-and-true metalcore. When you try to break down all the vocal and lyrical elements at work on Irrational Pull, it gets daunting and, on paper, it looks scattered and unfocused—but in practice, its dazzling from start to finish, 156/Silence have taken influence from across the heavy music spectrum—vocally and otherwise—to create something that, while uncomfortable, is totally breathtaking.
Irrational Pull is a hard record to describe—it’s dynamic, catchy, crushing, unpredictable—and so much more. To the metalcore newcomer, it may be overwhelming—hell, to someone who’s spent the better part of two decades neck deep in heavy music, it’s a little daunting—but it has that…well, irrational pull about it that keeps the listener glued. It’s heavy in all the right places, riff-laden, entertaining and unbelievably energetic, making it one of precious few 2020 must-listen records.
For Fans Of: Norma Jean, DeadCulture, Extortionist, Orthodox
By: Connor Welsh