Friday, the 24th. I can’t remember what month or even year it is at this point, i just keep hearing people say that. Weird things have been happening lately that I don’t understand but they terrify me nonetheless. It’s getting harder to sleep.

1412, today is January, the 24th. You’re doing better. Hopefully you don’t have another accident soon.

It’s been days since you last slept. Every night, you become increasingly aware of something, but you aren’t quite sure what that something is. You just know you need to sleep.

Empathy is back. After releasing a near perfect debut single, Agony in late October, the band is back and better than ever with the new single, “Old Hag” and give us another chapter in the life of Patient 1412. Something wicked this way comes.

Opening with dialogue between 1412 and an unnamed doctor, the track suddenly bursts into a frenzy of freakish fretting and downright destructive drumming. Whereas Agony saw multi-instrumentalist Anthony Williams taking a more structured approach to his riff-filled madness, on Old Hag he lets loose with a flurry of dizzying and chaotic grooves, aneurysm inducing drum fills, and bass playing so grimy it might evolve into a Muk. From the opening riffs that bounce upon the listener’s skull like a hammer constantly swinging down to the start-stop chug in the middle of the song to the very last hate-filled breakdown, Williams provides a sonic equivalent to being stuck in sleep paralysis. How fitting for 1412.

I keep seeing her now. It’s been what I hope is two weeks now since I’ve had any sleep. I should be dead, but she won’t let me be. That old hag won’t let me be. I don’t know what to do anymore.

1412,  don’t lose focus again. We’ve been having these sessions for quite some time now and you’re finally learning to cope. Who is this hag you keep talking about? We’re quite interested.

Something keeps drawing her closer. You can’t tell who she is but you know she’s not natural. You can’t tell if she’s real or not but she makes you fear for your life either way. Is it the medications? Is it the lack of real, actual sleep? Or are your sins finally catching up to you?

Acting yet again as the voice behind 1412, vocalist Ernesto Yebra is twice as sinister as he was on the debut. Improving his range far beyond the standard shouting and yelping of most nu-metalcore, Yebra instead brings his full rage to the table. Beginning with shrill, mutant-like highs in the vein of the late Mitch Lucker and ending the song with almost obscenely low gutturals, Yebra proves yet again that he is a more than welcome addition to the heavy music scene. Moments like the first groove-laden breakdown show Yebra at his best, letting loose with more venom and terror than an Aliens movie. From the first two-step of the song to the penultimate pit-starter of an ending, Yebra barks, grunts, and shrieks his way into the listener’s head and makes something very apparent: you will never escape.

I think she tried to kill me last night. She didn’t do anything except pin me down on my bed, but she didn’t attack me. She just stared. And she whispered something, I couldn’t quite make it out but it sounded like she wanted to kill me. I… I think I’m losing it again. Oh god I am. I’m crazy, aren’t I? Why am I here? Who did I hurt? Please god help me.

1412, we have warned you time and time again. You’ve been experiencing Sleep Paralysis. Nobody in this room has tried to harm you. You have, however, left us with no choice. We’re going to intensify your treatment, effective immediately. We do apologize, as it is rather painful.

She was trying to kill you. The doctors lied, they know who she is because they sent her to you. Yo’re not crazy. They won’t tell you why you’re there, so you can’t be crazy. Right?

You better hope so.

Old Hag is a vast improvement on an already perfected sound from Empathy. From Williams’ more chaotic and oppressive guitar playing and more barbaric and skull-bashing drumming to Yebra’s vastly expanded vocal range and downright chilling lyrical content, Empathy are sure to conquer the world.  Seemingly in spite of the naysayers of the genre, the band are managing to put a frsh, conceptual twist on an already depressing and dark genre of heavy music. Don’t sleep on this band any longer. Running from happiness is a death sentence.

The old hag is waiting.


FFO: Yuth Forever, Barrier, Code Orange, Witness