Advocate: noun. Meaning: One who speaks for or pleads a proposal, cause or initiative. Specifically, one who defends or maintains a cause or interests of another. These days, it’s commonplace for music to serve as a podium to preach some form of purpose–be it religion, secularity, politics, love or freedom, having a message is becoming more and more the norm. While often times, this unites and attracts fans more than it does repel them, it is still easy for bands to get so caught up what they’re preaching that the music takes a back seat. How does any of this–aside from the obvious–relate to New Zealand based groove-influenced Advocates? With their debut release, Mindless, they demonstrate (and advocate) a message of heaviness and groove so distinctly and directly than even the folks at Merriam-Webster would be banging their heads.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that there isn’t much new or ground-breaking about Mindless. There aren’t spaghetti-like portions of noodling guitar, or progressive, fifteen minute long tracks about the Human condition. Advocates instead bring to the table a brutally straightforward heavy, down-tuned atmosphere laced with melodic touches that keep the listener interested. More importantly, what Advocates do, they do it right, as each song is made up of dynamic, well-mixed, well-played and well-written elements that blend just the right amount of groove into every breakdown, and just the right amount of melody into every riff. So while there aren’t deep, poetic meanings behind the lyrics, and sure, there isn’t a spaceman Spiff djent-like tone behind every groove, there is a deep, driving, concrete-cracking attitude behind every syllable, and a punishing breakdown to be had between every melodic moment of rest.
The heaviness of the EP–easily the bulk of Mindless’ appeal–is well done in a manner that is not only appealing on a superficial level, but on a mechanical level as well. The lyrics, filled with honesty, angst, bitterness and profanity can easily be related to on an infantile, emotional level. While the lyrics spit acidic rage into the listener’s ears, the deep, chugged, grooving riffs pack it in tight with coarse, thick mud. “Giants” showcases this groove-infused chugging expertly, opening with a fluid breakdown and devolving throughout the track into chuggier, more stagnant grooves. Many tracks on Mindless use the same strategy, opening with a quick paced, steadily jiving breakdown, but then rapidly dropping off in tempo as the song–and straight-laced brutality–progresses.
Album closer “Deadweight,” however, employs a different strategy which sees the band functioning at it’s most dynamic, advanced and polished level. Where previously, melodic, almost-positive sounding elements had been purely vestigial to the amorphous body that is Mindless, “Deadweight” allows the band’s hidden penchant for melody to shine. Featuring an uplifting, high-wire riff and chanting, the positivity and pure harmony felt in the track is nearly tangible, as it ties a figurative necklace of silver around the listener’s neck. However, this feeling lasts only long enough for the listener to sense the impending doom, as a short build up leads to an absolutely devastating breakdown which takes that silver necklace and attaches a gold anvil, simultaneously crushing and strangling the listener with unbridled heaviness.
Perfect is a loaded word–it changes from person to person and from thing to thing. If I wanted my perfect girlfriend to look like my perfect girlfriend, or vice versa, there would be problems. However, if you’re searching for a simple (albeit slightly generic), heavy, no-holds-barred attack on your ear drums, Advocates’ Mindless might be as close to perfect as it gets–something I can definitely advocate.
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism