Album: Flatlined – EP
Capable of pumping 100 mL of blood in a single stroke, the human heart is a truly adaptive and awe-inspiring piece of biological machinery. The very reason we have life pumping through our veins and love with which to give, the heart is, in some ways, the very epicenter of what allows us to be human in the first place. To live, laugh, and love—after all, that is simply what Amative means, is it not? Defined as to act with love, or amorously, were it not for the steadfast candor of our gallant hearts, there could be no such action. But what happens when the heart stops? What happens when the product of love and happiness is left without a source—as barren as a riverbed run dry? The result is Flatlined, an EP that takes the passion and drive of an immensely talented young band and uses it to create something crushing, catastrophic and destructive. Jarring, razor-sharp riffs, pointed, poignantly emotive lyrics and pounding, looming percussion dance in unison with immersive electronic effects and inventive song structure to bring you the debut release by Ohio’s Amative; Flatlined.
Whatever life and love may have ben coursing through the veins and arteries of Amative is instantly soured upon the onset of “Serpent’s Bite,” the haunting introduction to Flatlined. What starts as an eerie, foreboding fade in soon explodes into an immersive catastrophic introductory track that uses off-the-charts levels of atmosphere that acts deviously alongside punishing, crushing dissonance to drown the listener in pure, dense, down-tempo depression. Whip-like, cracking snare and plodding, low-down-and-dirty guitar tones soon give way to…something different—a palpitation from the dried, blood-covered fist that was once the band’s heart—as “Selfish Desires” and “Bloodthirsty” both feature dynamic, driving instrumentation that, while rooted in rollicking, bouncy grooves and deep, dissonant chugging, also seem to find energy enough to pick up the pace and sweep the listener away with fluid, furious fretwork and fill-heavy percussion. Likewise, the electronic elements are easily able to ebb and flow with the instrumental tide—ranging from the looming, haunted atmosphere of “Serpent’s Bite” to the catchy, whirring synth of “Bloodthirsty”—the electronic elements find themselves working alongside the rest of the dynamic instrumentation, following the cue of Amative’s ring-leader: the vocals.
Where Amative truly shine is their use of absolutely incredible vocal diversity to keep the listener hooked and coming back for more. “Soulstealer” and “Insomnia’s Edge” are the two shining examples of this. “Soulstealer” uses crooned, clean vocals that almost feel out-of-place alongside bitter, crunchy mid-range shouts to confuse the listener into submission—leaving them defenseless for the entire arsenal of vocal intensity prevalent on the following track. “Insomnia’s Edge,” featuring Sworn In’s Tyler Dennen, is simply a vocal masterpiece. The clean vocals feel almost nu-metallic in nature, while practically every style of screeching scream and bellowed growl flanks them—making brilliant use of an ever-so-eerie whisper to flow smoothly between the two. As the electronic elements build and grow throughout the entire track, so does the vocal element—whispers grow to gang-led chants and dually-screeched, hyper-visceral vocal onslaughts. This track serves as the perfect way to end the EP, as it is the vocal and instrumental culmination to every dynamic the band has spent Flatlined honing and developing.
It isn’t often bands so young are capable of developing and refining a dynamic so well as Amative have. From the very get go of “Serpent’s Bite,” Amative’s harsh, acrid venom is shot into the listener’s circulation. Like any poison worth it’s while, it goes right for the heart—and then the head—staying lodged in the listener’s brain for days on end. “Selfish Desires” is home to catchy vocal patterns with even catchier lyrics and screams that stay lodged in the gyri and sulci of the listener’s somatosensory cortex and drive their every cognitive function. “Bloodthirsty” functions to a similar effect, Using driving, galloping percussion to drive fierce, razor-sharp riffs deep into their temples, infecting their mind and body, leaving them pulverized. Every aspect to Amative’s EP seems geared to take the band’s boundless energy and love for what they do and turn it into a weapon with which to rend the listener heartless—with a future as bleak as their Flatlined EKG.
With songs written as carefully as the human heart’s delicate design, yet with power and ferocity as intense as Michael Phelps’ heartbeat, Flatlined is an absolutely devastating—if not brief—EP that shows Amative working as a well-tuned and enormously devastating machine. With perfect syncope (and diastole), the band are able to work as a cohesive unit to provide both crushing, soul-shredding heaviness and uplifting, catchy harmonies within the framework of a single track—all in the name of bleeding the listener dry.
For Fans Of: Sirena, Memphis May Fire, Contentions, Texas in July
By: Connor Welsh