Artist: Silent on Fifth Street
Album: Embodied Cognition
There’s a difference between being quiet and being silent. Quiet is often associated with active, focused restraint. You know what I mean; when your friend won’t stop talking during your favorite part of a movie, or when your little brother won’t stop singing that jingle from some new, shitty commercial from this new, shitty generation of cartoons—you tell them to be quiet or shut up.
But silence…silence is something different.
Where “quiet” implies concerted effort—the restraint of livelihood—silence almost implies the absence of livelihood. The kind of bleak, dull, unsettling absence of sound that accompanies the loss of life. That same spine-tingling chill and sensation of spiders crawling along the small of your back accompanies the horrific (and horrifically heavy) nature of Embodied Cognition, the latest effort by Maryland-based masters of aggression, Silent on Fifth Street. Using mind-numbing, dizzying riffs combined with jarring, jaw-dislocating, sucker-punch styled breakdowns and grooves, Embodied Cognition is the kind of eviscerating brutality that haunts your head like a nightmare and stays with you like your own shadow.
Silent on Fifth Street take many of the things veteran fans of heavy music fell in love with when they first heard Salt the Wound’s Carnal Repercussions. Embodied Cognition take that sensation—that frantic, violent and visceral loathing that makes the listener see red and thirst for blood—and give it a modern, lustrous sheen. Percussionist Sean Levey is a terror in the most incredible way possible, working with bassist Cody Brown to create a low end as fearsome and ferocious as a raw, unfiltered and unimaginably devastating natural disaster. “Level Five Doom” is just that—doom—as Levey’s lacerating speed and sinister technicality couples with Brown’s beefy, bold grooves to liquify the listener’s organs with prolapse-inducing intensity. Likewise, even the opening number, “Entropy,” is home to horrendous aggression, allowing it to segue smoothly into “Better Off Dead,” which sees Levey’s destructive percussive prowess serving as a stellar foundation for the furious fretwork of guitarists Zach Ellwood and Jeremy Johnson (replaced by previous bassist Shane Newson). Leadriffsmith Johnson, assisted by Ellwood, dominates in both technical prowess and eerie, terrifying ambiance. The haunting introduction, “Entropy” sees the duo setting the stage for the nightmare-like tone maintained by the remainder of Embodied Cognition, where “Beauty, As the Beast” and the climactic titular track see Johnson annihilating the listener with merciless precision, working with Ellwood to crush bones and rend flesh with slam-tinted breakdowns that pepper the spots between skin-shredding, super-sharp segments of scintillating, refreshing technicality.
Silent on Fifth Street would fall flat on their face as a deathcore act if they couldn’t back up their brutalizing, pseudo-technical instrumentation with a vocalist worth his weight in pure poison—and the voice of David Scott is just that. Scott’s crushing vocal performance leaks into the listener’s ears like liquefied arsenic, corroding every ounce of sanity found within their ears and replacing it with raw, sore-ridden and pus-leaking flesh. “Galaxies” sees his range reaching from ruthless lows to relentless shrieks, just as the catchy and groovy “Level Five Doom” is a lurid and murky display of his ability to flow along side the insidious instrumentation prevalent on Embodied Cognition. Scott—while a vocal tank—does encounter some areas where his lyrics leave a little to be desired (which is, on the whole, quite forgivable in the world of heavy music). While “Better Off Dead” is an instrumentally crushing track, its lyrics find themselves lacking. Fear not, however, for moments like the mile-per-minute display of vocal acrobatics on “Absolution” is jaw-dropping—more than incredible enough to allow the listener to look past some of Scott’s lyrical shortcomings.
Instrumental intensity, vocal viciousness and more heaviness than ten elephants on anabolic steroids, Embodied Cognition is one of the best displays of deathcore 2016 has seen—from a band many people may not have expected it from. In a year where we saw new releases from Whitechapel and Despised Icon both (among many others), there is a strong basis that Silent on Fifth Street have given fans of tried-and-true deathcore a more enjoyable experience than either of those juggernauts. Blast beats, brutalizing breakdowns, riffs and even some skin-shredding solos, this devious and devastating quintet have snuck up on the heavy music community and hoodwinked them with a release that will leave many bewildered to say the least. Looking for eerie, atmospheric touches? “Embodied Cognition” and “Absolution” have what you need. Want some straight-up, no-holds-barred evil? “Level Five Doom,” “Better Off Dead” and “Entropy” will bust both of your knees. With the sun setting on 2016, twilight is upon us—and this is one band that will make damn sure it’s anything but silent.
For Fans Of: Salt the Wound, Bury the Rod, Boris the Blade, Exile
By: Connor Welsh