In a world with limitless potential and endless possibilities—a place where you can truly make yourself into anything or anyone—I have always found it puzzling that there are those who lack a goal. Those who roam, who lack an endpoint—a direction—present a profound enigma to me, who has always had a “finish line.” However curious they may be, the directionless are the greatest source of forward movement and progression this world has. Tirelessly churning and pumping fresh energy and motion into the world, these feeling, thinking cogs of the global machine, while perhaps moving forward without an end in mind, move forward with intense and admirable ambition: Clockworks is proof of this. Forged by InDirections, Clockworks is pulsing, flesh-and-blood emotion caged in iron wrought, mechanically pulverizing heaviness that crunches and churns tirelessly forward, crushing the listener underfoot and pushing metalcore into previously uncharted realms of progression while it does so.
The iron framework that serves as Clockworks’ skeleton is cast from solid, punctual percussion and hook-filled, ear-catching riffs that tower as tall as clock towers. The heaviest, most leaden aspects of these immense bastions of unbendable, staunch buttresses of drums and fretwork are abound on the earliest tracks of the album. “Clockworks” and “Defiance” especially focus on heavy, relentless and unyielding instrumentation made from winding, twisting and turning grooves that snake their way inside the listener’s ear like a augur and punch holes in their brain. Downtuned and decimating guitars wear down with oppressive weight upon the listener, while the percussion and bass hammer away, incessant, at the brass bell that lies at the dead center of InDirections’ debut release. The result is a foundation of diminutive, cast-iron crush that soon winds its way skyward to reach a surreal and beautiful apex.
While “Defiance” and “Enemies” focus on bitter, heavy and oppressive elements of InDirections’ instrumentation, as Clockworks progresses—as its tower is built higher and higher—it becomes narrow and more delicate. The later tracks on the release, “Illumination” and “Sleepless” especially, focus on clear, resonating guitar tones and vocal dynamics that rely more on harmony and cohesiveness rather than errant dissonance and distress. The inflection point that is “Breathless” links these two facets of the band’s musical inclinations brilliantly, providing a transition between the bitter, brooding InDirections and the uplifting, melodic InDirections that the listener may hardly be aware of upon their first nominal listens through Clockworks. This is true in great part because both portions of the album find themselves winding their way inside the listener’s head and taking control of their mind. However, where “Enemies” and “Defiance” punch their way in, slashing and burning every bit of sanity the listener erects in defense, “Sleepless” glides in smoothly and settles itself in, making a home in the crater the band’s proclivity for pure, punishing anger had so readily created.
Throughout the tapering and twisting structure that mimics InDirections’ dynamic, there lies a constant—a resonating core that holds tall the bold faces and brass bells of Clockworks. This is the vocal element—the harsh screams and serene singing that allows the album to flow so fluidly from its firm foundation to it’s ethereal apex. While this core is undoubtedly firm enough to hold InDirections’ still and safe against any storm, its purpose is ultimately the source of its relative weakness—it fails to change with the band’s instrumental inclinations. Even as a greater emphasis on cohesive and comprehensive metalcore instrumentation takes shape on “Throne” and “Illumination,” the vocals remain the same harsh-clean blend that reigned as king from Clockworks’ get-go. At the end of the day, when the clock strikes twelve and the album is done, this isn’t a grand fault in the release—for the vocals themselves are thoroughly well done. Bellows like those heard throughout “Enemies” and “Illumination” a like are as boorishly low and brutalizing as the crystalline cleans on “Sleepless” are blissful and beautiful. It is where the band’s consistency fades into homogeny that boredom may arise.
Every sound on Clockworks—from the faint tick of the second hand to the churning chunk of the hour hand—builds into a cacophony of metalcore mastery. InDirections are a young but prodigal band that seem to be able to build a towering monolith of skull-splitting heaviness and wound-mending beauty out tediously sparse elements—even at the expense of miniature missteps into monotony.
For Fans Of: Memphis May Fire, AKissForJersey, As Artifacts, Sirena
By: Connor Welsh