Artist: In Trenches
Album: Aftermath – EP
The face of the world has been forever changed. Pearlescent blue oceans and wisps of elegant, frothy white clouds no longer decorate the spherical rock we call home. Instead, charred craters and deep ravines scar the surface of our planet—overnight, it seems, our haven of life and serenity has been transformed into a rock, bereft of spirit and soul. It was no World War that was responsible—nor was it divine Armageddon or the rumored “coming of days.” Rather, it was the release of Aftermath, the debut EP by New York ne’er-do-wells In Trenches. Aftermath is unabashedly heavy—remorseless in its tactless, senseless assault on the listener—combining haunting atmosphere, jarring slams and bone-busting breakdowns side by side, one after another to inflict destruction on the most massive scale imaginable.
Aftermath is the very sound of chaos—the soundtrack to the most sweeping, sinister battle the planet has ever seen. In Trenches use a variety of absolutely intense instrumentation to provide a varied aspect to a comprehensive, front-to-back crushing experience. The diversity with which In Trenches provide “the heavy” is akin to the diversity of armor and artillery used on the battlefield—making percussionist Chad Sutliff the figurative field artillery officer. Whether it’s the enormous, cannon-like boom of his toms and kick drum in “Contempt,” or the lacerating, machine-gun snare hits in “Aftermath,” Sutliff launches a relentless attack on the listener’s eardrums with a broad array of incredible drumming at his command. Sutliff’s percussive battery is amplified with support from bassist Tom Rehor. Rehor lurks in the shadows, adding extra layers of thick, grimy depth to Sutliff’s kick drum and hyper-resonant toms to make each thud meatier and force each sharp snare crack to sound even brighter and flashier than it otherwise would. Rehor and Sutliff’s sinister teamwork provides a cantankerous source of back-bending heaviness as is. Where most bands might relent here, giving the listener a source of reprieve, In Trenches simply do not. Rather, guitarists James Keller and Gabe Father keep on kicking it up notch after notch, shattering fresh bones and carving new incisions with each crushing chug and skin-shearing riff. “Dark Path” is a brilliant example of this—while Sutliff and Rehor oscillate between speedy, slight jabs and brooding, mammoth patterns, Father and Keller do the same—ranging from riff-driven aggression to chug-laden insanity at the drop of a hat, with each pluck and chug giving rise to grooves and breakdowns more heavy than the last.
In Trenches’ Aftermath is a world re-shaped by strife and war; the evidence of which is given in the bitter—and polarizing—harsh vocals of Jamie Rabideau. Like many vocalists in bands that straddle the line between beatdown and deathcore, Rabideau’s shouts and growls are either love-it or hate-it in their effect on the listener. Many sets of ears might be cast asunder by his harsh shouts, which border on traditionally hardcore in style and gruffness. Sections like the opening to “Aftermath” are especially schizophrenic, where intense, hot-and-heavy deathcore instrumentation is accompanied by seemingly out of place tough-and-gruff hoarse shouting. However, nearly every listener imaginable will find solace in Rabideau’s guttural, grimy growls. “Resistance” makes relentless use of these, berating the listener with a tone so covered in filth and grime, it feels as if Rabideau is shouting at them through a shit-stained sock. Additionally, where his more hardcore-tinted moments might be initially daunting and hard-to-swallow, with repeated listens, Rabideau’s rough shouts align themselves with the likes of UK’s Desolated; a unique combination of maybe-mismatched musical and vocal styles that turns out to be insidiously and infectiously catchy, creative and effective.
While Aftermath shows that In Trenches have every ounce of potential it takes to be a world-changing, genre-smashing and earth-shattering deathcore band, they are hindered by production; especially that of their vocals. Even as moments like the introduction to “Resistance” or the climax to “Aftermath” sound crystal clear and positively crushing, a majority of the album still sounds slightly muddy—a less-than-desirable side-effect of the band’s DIY styling and sensibility. Where this isn’t bad, it’s still something that might turn some listeners away. However, those that are hardy enough to weather the storm of somewhat-shoddy production will find themselves with one of the best underground deathcore gems since Falsifier’s self titled EP from earlier this year. Laden with disembowlingly heavy, disturbingly brutal moments of chugged-out, blast-beaten bliss, Aftermath makes up for what they lack in recording quality with over-the-top intensity, creating a dense, dome-splitting EP that whales on the listener from start to finish without easing up on the brakes or letting the listener take a breath.
Defined by destruction, born of brutality and hardened by heaviness, In Trenches are a war intense and angry enough to smash down borders between hardcore and deathcore. With more polish and a perfection of their heavier-than-a-half-ton-pickup dynamic, In Trenches’ next release might not just leave Aftermath in the dust, but rather, the releases of all the band’s peers as well.
For Fans Of: Desolated, Traitors, Towers, The Acacia Strain, Falsifier
By: Connor Welsh