Artist: Johnny Booth
Take a second and look at the world around you. An urban cityscape, barking dogs, pedestrians and homeless–all the norm. Now take a closer look–I mean really look at your surroundings. Corruption, strife, class conflict and discontent become more and more evident as they morph from shadows to fully present beings–manifestations, if you will–of the worst parts of American (and indeed global) culture. In a similar manner, there is more than meets the eye to Long Island based Johnny Booth’s debut album, Connections. While at first, the math-metalcore quintet appear engaging, but not necessarily ground-breaking, the more the listener pays attention, the more Connections’ nuances and details take shape, morphing into a politically-powered juggernaut of progressive aggression.
Like a gunshot, the aggressive revolution that is Connections takes off with a bang. Album opener “Panoramic” is just that–a complete amalgam of every element Johnny Booth use to create an immersive, bi-polar metalcore record. Featuring screeching guitars and pounding drums which toggle tempos and time signatures at the drop of a dime. Beneath the roaring riffs and rollicking breakdowns of the guitars and drums, the bass rumbles and pops, just barely audible enough to reveal it’s impressive nature. While the instruments lay a brilliant, dynamic soundscape, the vocals tear their way across it, deviating on occasion from the atonal mid-range scream to an ear-piercing high or a bellowed low, all while spitting a message of misanthropy and cynical realism.
Lyrically, Connections is a beacon to its piers. Tracks like “Mr. Grey,” and the title track “Connections” show Johnny Booth working at their peak not only instrumentally, but as a complete outfit as well. Messages of social and political corruption, greed and ignorance are abound not only in the aforementioned tracks but throughout the entire album. The lyrics are remarkable not only in their truth content, but in their relationship to the music that serves as their canvas. The sheer, straightforward honesty they present both blends and contrasts starkly with the album’s instrumentation. At times, the vocals slow, and are screamed monosyllabically, while the guitar and drums race by. However, during heavier, crushing sections, the vocals keep their pace, while the guitars shift from razor-sharp technicality to muddy, sludgy heaviness and drum’s slow to a crawl.
While the individual elements of the album may shift tempo (for however brief a time), Connections as an album never takes the time to slow down–at least not for long. Johnny Booth rip along at an absolutely breakneck pace until hitting the melodic brick wall that is the penultimate track of the album–”Field Six” While the listener might get lulled into a false sense of security as the instruments build into what sounds like a beautiful closing climax, the curtain is pulled back, and the album ends with an uproarious bang for the closing track “To Samo, From Samo.” This track moves from soul-slicing shredding technicality to a smooth, thick groove, taking a stop along the way for a skull-crushing breakdown.
So open your eyes and look at the world around you. Really look, and look everywhere–including your music library. If you’re missing an alternative metalcore torpedo, fueled on social strain, political corruption carrying a payload of technicality and brutality, then take the time to indulge Johnny Booth’s album Connections–and let it change the way you perceive American hardcore, and perhaps American society.
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism.