Artist: True Form
Album: Compendium – EP
There are many ways humans obtain and categorize knowledge. Some knowledge is simply stored in memory—things you learn and need to be able to do on a daily basis to survive. Often called reflexes or “muscle memory,” these instances are things no one really teaches you, but rather, you just learn. Other topics, however, are not so simple. To these more intricate subjects—math, sciences, the fine arts, history—we compile hard wellsprings of accumulated information we can reference when need be (unless you’re being tested, that is). There are anthologies, encyclopedias and, finally, compendiums—riches of knowledge pertaining to a particular topic. When diving into the debut EP by Oregon post-hardcore act True Form, the name Compendium might seem odd and maybe a little arrogant; however, by the time the first track has concluded, the reason for the name becomes all too clear. True Form are masters at combining frantic, frenzied energy and careful, calculated melodies into contagious, crushing and dissonant anthems—ranging from Converge-esque aggression to He Is Legend (circa I Am Hollywood) catchiness, Compendium is a comprehensive and creative EP that is sure to catch many an ear.
Equal parts crashing, chaotic hardcore, punk-influenced post-hardcore and emotional, erratic skramz, Compendium is a varied—but—focused grab bag of instrumental whimsy. Percussionist Duncan Allen guides the band—from ferocious fills and quick patterns on “Feats of Strength” to the more mellow and post-rock styled conclusion to “Chi.” From Allen’s hand, True Form draw direction, as he tends to dictate when a song rips ahead on all cylinders, drops into a devastating breakdown or slows to a subtle conclusion—however he is not without some help. Bassist Jeff Lane works with him, pooling around the booming, deep drums as if his notes were melted tar. Gritty, thick and fluid, Lane’s bass playing fills the space between Allen’s drumming and the fretwork of guitarists Colton Dodd and Joseph Manning. Where Allen’s percussion oscillates between a variety of styles, the duo follow—channeling bright and visceral chaotic hardcore during “White Woman” and “Good Grief,” while pulling from catchier and more moderate post-hardcore stylings during segments of “Feats of Strength” and “Chi.” Dodd and Manning’s work is much of what allows True Form to flow so beautifully between brutality and breathtaking serenity—even if it helps that their riffs and grooves are built atop Lane’s luscious bass work.
While Dodd and Manning are indeed much of the diversity that makes True Form a stand-out act, they are not the sole sources of it. Frontman Wesley Gipson—assisted by Manning—dominates with a gruff mid-range yell that works in dialectic with crooned, cleanly sung vocals that are incredibly reminiscent of I Am Legend’s earlier releases. “Feats of Strength” is especially culpable of this—culpable, of course, in the best way possible. Gipson’s spastic brays and screams grate away at the listener’s sanity, wearing them down quickly—until clean vocals, presumably those of Manning’s doing, swoop in to save the day. While the lyrical content is poetic and plays to the emotional and energetic delivery from the duo, sometimes it feels a little hard to follow (the cleanly sung bridge on “Feats of Strength,” again, is an example). For the most part, however, Gipson’s vocals are raw and unfiltered, conveying energy and emotion with the sort of ease that comes from practiced experience.
Compendium is a brilliant amalgamation of artistic merit and earnest emotion. Where the production is a little rough around the edges, the lack of polished, lustrous finish gives it warmth and intimacy—playing to the throes between hellish aggression and serene bliss that define the release. True Form play on both time-tested tactics and nostalgia with the heavy/soft dynamic prevalent on Compendium, just as well as they incorporate originality into the styles they draw heavily from. While some fans of more contemporary post-hardcore may find Compendium a bit mind boggling, those who fancy themselves veterans of the genre will no doubt be breathless at the wealth of knowledge and experience flooding their ears.
For Fans Of: He Is Legend, Norma Jean, Converge, Pianos Become the Teeth, The Chariot
By: Connor Welsh