REVIEW: S’Efforcer – Survive}•{Discover [2017]

Artist: S’Efforcer

Album: Survive}•{Discover


Life is a constant struggle—a struggle to balance between work and play, love and hate, action and rest—every action requires energy that seems split in its intention between two divergent actions. Growing—up and into a whole new person—takes just as much struggle, compounding the strains of everyday life as it weighs on your shoulders by forcing you into the cold, harsh reality of adulthood. The world just keeps turning; it keeps twirling along on its axis while life just keeps adding up, and there’s nothing you—or anyone—can do to slow it.

As humans all we can do is try our best to survive—to put our every effort behind every breath, no matter how shallow and forced—or, as the French might say, one must s’efforcer.

Named for the reflexive form of the French verb for “strive, endeavor or try with might,” that is exactly what this New York progressive metalcore act do: they try with every ounce of life they have. The product is an album that explores the full spectrum of human emotion in a manner so peerless, it’s bound to make the listener’s jaw drop. Survive}•{Discover is a collection of songs—no, an experience—that forces the listener to truly feel what it takes to fight for every breath as if it was their last. Capturing frenzied anxiety, soul-smothering depression, blind-sighted rage and harrowing, mournful love and loss, S’Efforcer are truly a one-of-a-kind band that have created an album unlike any other; heavy, progressive, melodic, introspective and intense for its duration.

Somewhere at the crossroads of unrestrained aggression and unfiltered beauty, you’ll find S’Efforcer. Combining the same elements of progressive metal and hard-hitting metalcore that made artists like Northlane leap out of nowhere in the late 2000s and adding more aggressive elements into the mix, Survive}•{Discover is a journey through the human condition, one song at a time. Percussionist Phil Frederick is the foundation that the band build from—and without his energy and excellence, the group wouldn’t hit as hard or transition as fluidly. Take, for example, his excellent work on the bouncy, brutalizing introductory track that progresses into “Morrow.” Frederick is ferocious, but not without an ability to infuse beauty into his drumming—heard near the end of “Medical Forensics” and “Pt. 2, Strangers” Frederick is simply fantastic—and he sets that tone for the entire band, working with equally talented bassist Attila De Falussy and guitarists Charles Stevens and Bryce VanDewark beautifully. De Falussy adds intensity and heaviness to the band’s brash and bold breakdowns, like those heard on “Finley,” and “Like Teaching Snakes to Speak English.” At other times, however—like on “Pt. 1, Upon a Midnight Dreary,” De Falussy simply keeps the band balanced, adding a low rumble to the more melodic grooves and sections fretted by Stevens and VanDewark. A dynamic duo, Stevens and VanDewark are capable of scathing, groovy brutality (“Dybuuk”) and touching, heart-warming ethereality (“(Painted Window”).) The two are immensely talented, crafting everything from dancy grooves to devastating breakdowns without missing a beat or faltering by a centimeter. Crushing and immense—yet at times, peaceful and vibrant—and yet at others again, a style and sound that defies explanation, Stevens and VanDewark are a monstrous part of why S’Efforcer are such a revitalizing and emotionally awakening experience.

Emotionally awakening only hints at the intensity and ravaging, soul-shredding power behind the vocal cords and pen of frontman Quay Jones. A wordsmith to rival artists within melodic hardcore and progressive metalcore bands alike, with the vocal diversity to match, Jones’ addition to Survive }•{ Discover is an enormous part of what sets it apart from the band’s peers. Take “Dybuuk,” which sees Jones’ range at his most ruthless and hate-filled—with lyrics that manage to amplify it, bringing out the aggression tenfold. Other times, there are songs like “(Painted Window” which are enough to bring the listener to tears even with a minimal input from Jones, and “Finley,” which blends the two together—potent and powerful without sacrificing a poignant, emotionally relevant side. That seems to take everything Jones does and puts it into a relatively straightforward sentence—he isn’t content to be the best at one style, so he expands it, existing brilliantly at both. He is all too ready to bare his soul, showing himself in an unfiltered form through tales of woe, love, loss and anxiety to the listener; however he also bares his teeth, clenches his jaw and roars with the collective might of a Spartan army where needed, manifesting rage and riveting poetry all in one.

Survive }•{ Discover is just one of those albums that stays with you—from the first time you listen to it, to the subsequent hundreds (yes—hundreds) of times after. Bouncy, progressive, riff-driven, aggressive—they’re all words that describe equal parts of the experience S’Efforcer have prepared for the listener on their debut release; yes, they’ve only made this one album. Prodigally talented and prepared to take over the world, S’Efforcer are a force to be reckoned with, blending everything there is to love about heavy music and splicing it with distinct personality.



For Fans Of: Northlane, Volumes, ‘Sabella, Spirit Breaker

Connor Welsh