Album: Garrotter – EP
It takes a true psychopath to choose a wire as a means of killing someone these days. In an age of bullets, bombshells and baseball bats as popular means of murder, it takes someone with more than a couple screws loose to want to be centimeters away from their victim as they force the last breath from their lungs. That’s where IAMTHESHOTGUN come into play, with their most recent and awaited EP—Garrotter. With all the sinister intent of a serial killer and the murderous drive of a trained killer, IAMTHESHOTGUN wrap a thread of razor sharp riffing around the listener’s throat and pull with the brute strength of bone-busting breakdowns and slamming percussion to create a truly killer deathcore experience. Garrotter is a raw, raunchy take on deathcore the way fans of the genre five or six years ago will remember it—and trust me, it’s just as lethal now as it was then.
With Garrotter, IAMTHESHOTGUN use lacerating, blisteringly fast blast beats and tremolo-picked, low and filthy lead guitars to revitalize a long-dead style of grime-covered deathcore fans of Thy Art is Murder’s Infinite Death will find solace in. “Ready, Set, Destroy” opens with blast beats so speedy they squash the listener’s mind into pulp, as percussionist Maxx Smith lays down patterns and beats so abrasive that they practical flay whole chunks of flesh from the listener’s body. However, on track’s like the lead single, “Bleach,” blast beats take a backseat to rampaging kick-drum and technically savvy, ear-catching fills. Between the displays of speed on “Ready, Set, Destroy” and the power of “Bleach” or “F.I.L.T.H.Y.,” Smith’s prowess behind the kit never comes into question. Meanwhile, as Smith is blasting and bombarding the listener with speed and fury, Bryan Pelle and Giovanni Perrucci create grime-covered, subtly groovy riffs that flow brilliantly into bone-shattering breakdowns. “Garrotter” is a brilliant example of this: Pelle and Perrucci tremolo pick tedious leads that despite their technicality are still grimy and low. These leads twist and gyrate into gut-wrenching grooves. Before too long, these grooves migrate even lower, reaching a resonating, deep boom that matches Alan Peredes’ plodding, punishing bass tone brilliantly. As these elements come together, breakdowns heavy enough to bruise the listener’s entire body come into play—breakdowns heavy enough to make Annotations of an Autopsy or I Shot the Sherriff blush.
Where Garrotter is musically engaging—but not necessarily diverse or detailed—vocally, it is a mosaic of intense shrieks and bitter, burly bellows that would strike fear into Satan himself. Kade Beem lets loose with an entire range of talented tones and styles that provide variety where there is musical homogeny. “Garrotter,” for example, opens with beefy, almost burped bellows that rapidly elevate to shrieks and shrill screams—only to equilibrate to a talented toggling between the two that keeps the listener hooked throughout the entire frenzied, frantic track. Highs and lows are not the limit to Beem’s range, however—as “F.I.L.T.H.Y.” is home to eerie, whispered vocals that are unlike any other heard on the EP. Likewise, “Behold the Earth” introduces gruff, mid-range shouts and gang chants that—while boasting lack-luster lyrics—are a welcome change and add flare and energy to the EP without seeming forced or contrived. Beem’s diversity adds to IAMTHESHOTGUN in a way that prevents Garrotter from becoming tiring and monotonous, as it allows the band to have a truly full-bodied dynamic, rather than exist as a one-sided, superficial example of old-school deathcore.
Ultimately, while IAMTHESHOTGUN’s EP is an expertly crafted example of deathcore’s early days, it falters in delivering a truly immersive experience that keeps it from getting tired after repeated listens. The contrived lyrics that appear during “Ready, Set, Destroy” and “Behold the Earth” are just corny enough to wear on the listener after repeated listens. Plus, the cold truth is that while IAMTHESHOTGUN do a great job of revitalizing a rickety, dying breed of deathcore, they don’t gain many points for creativity along the way. Even in spite of all of this, there are still moments of complete brilliance to be had on Garrotter. The title track’s climactic breakdown, for example, is nothing short of scary, sending shivers down the listener’s spine, raising hairs and drawing flesh with relentless, mindfully crafted heaviness. Likewise, the almost-djenty groove found in “Bleach,” or the entire EP’s vocal variety and perfectly done percussion add a flair of technicality and impressive instrumentation that only truly stand out to the listener after a couple listens. To put it simply, IAMTHESHOTGUN do what they do to perfection—even though what they do might not be the most original take on deathcore out there. At the end of the day, they have fun—and make sure the listener has fun in the process.
Embrace the mindset of a psychopath—pick up the piano wire and prepare to get punished by IAMTHESHOTGUN’s deafeningly heavy, refreshing revitalization on long-forgotten deathcore: Garrotter. With blast beats fast enough to outpace The Flash, and breakdowns so heavy The Hulk couldn’t lift them, Garrotter is a riot of an EP that will be sure to bring seizure-induced smiles to the faces of heavy music fanatics everywhere.
For Fans Of: Thy Art Is Murder, Annotations of an Autopsy, I Shot the Sherriff, IDOLS
By: Connor Welsh