Album: MCMLII – EP
There is no limit to the number of things that cause misery and pain on this earth. It seems like every day, the powers that be find a new way to hurl some harbinger of malice and discontent at humanity, while the number of things that bring us joy and happiness slowly wane in quantity and quality. Earth has become a cesspit of suffering and darkness, with few sources of light and leisure to make up for it; however, amid the muck and grime of modern living, fans of heavy music can rejoice and find solace in the supreme display of heavy hardcore that is 2X4’s latest offering, MCMLII. 2X4 feast upon the filth and disgust that attempts to drag down humanity with each passing second, using it as fuel for their furiously burning fire—a fire used to refine their crushing amalgam of aggressive metal and beatdown hardcore, and forge MCMLII in the process.
MCMLII is truly a Cinderella story for the Oklahoman onslaught that is 2X4. Every release of theirs has been a marked improvement upon the last in every way, and the band’s latest EP makes this especially true where songwriting and instrumentation are concerned. No longer do 2X4 craft catchy hardcore ballads for the hardcore youth to hammer each other to death to in the pit; MCMLII is much more than that. From the bouncy beginning of “Volition,” drummer Jaime Luna is a constant source of entertainment; a veritable lunatic behind his kit. His drum patterns oscillate between the fast, scathing styles prevalent on “Destroy (A Mother’s Beauty)” and the slow, sludgy kick drum hits and looming, roomy toms on “Rot.” Luna is a practical, punctual backbone for 2X4’s raunchy, relentless blend of murderous, skin-peeling metal and bare-knuckle, bloody-fisted beatdown: a style perfected by the dynamic fretwork of guitarists Ben Touchberry and Jayson Braffett. Braffett and Touchberry wage war on the listener with each track, though their weapons of choice vary with every new song or brutalizing breakdown. The riffs heard in “Volition” and “Adversary” are as straightforward as Braffett and Touchberry get–coating Luna’s bouncy percussion with bold, headstrong chugs that feel like an intensified version of the band’s older material. “Rot” however sees the duo adding more atmosphere and sludgy, dissonant influence into their writing, building an enormous cathedral of creative fretwork around the listener only to have Luna send it smashing down upon their heads. Finally, the lead single “Destroy (A Mother’s Beauty)” displays the group’s third style, leaning heavily on trashy, metallic influences to cut deep slices into the listener’s ears, as Braffett and Touchberry’s fretwork is sharper than a Hottori Honzo sword, and more precise than Robin Hood’s archery.
You’re beginning to get the picture: yeah, 2X4 stepped up their game instrumentally—but that alone wouldn’t warrant such high praise. The fairy tale that is 2X4’s MCMLII doesn’t end with beefed up musicianship, as even the vocals and lyrics have gotten the boost they needed to make them truly unique. Vocalist Kevyn Reece has always been talented, but where past releases see his lyrics as hit-and-miss and his vocals never seeming to truly live up to their potential, MCMLII is a whole different ball game. Reece is a relentless source of scathing, bitter aggression—tinted with a newfound ability to tell engaging and meaningful stories with his lyrics as well as revel in the wretchedness of earthly living. “Destroy” is a deep, emotional tale of woe and love coated in grimy, visceral vocals–the same hefty, harsh shout that Reece has done to perfection on previous 2X4 releases. “Volition” is another gem on Reece’s newly awarded crown, as his vocals are energetic and frantic enough to keep up with Luna’s drumming, but grisly enough to play nicely with Touchberry and Braffett’s beefy fretwork. MCMLII‘s refurbished vocal element is mesmerizing to say the least; as it serves as the thrust 2X4 need to puncture the listener’s skull and infect the listener’s brain.
2X4 are a vacuum; an unquenchable thirst feasting on the world’s negativity to create mammoth-sized, murderously heavy misanthropic metalcore anthems for listener’s to soothe their aching existences in. The band are the genre’s Cinderella–and MCMLII is their story’s Prince Charming, kissing each fan of heavy music with lips made of festering filth and leaden heaviness. If “Volition” and its ferocious, take-no-prisoners attitude doesn’t find a permanent spot in the listener’s lifting playlist, then they must not be lifting heavy enough—just as if the lyrics on “Destroy” or “3/10 (A Father’s Pain)” don’t hit the listener in a soft spot, they must be made from stone. MCMLII is heavy, beatdown, metal-tinted hardcore the way it should be done, enough said.
Next time you can’t find the motivation to fight through one more day of your adverse, arduous existence, you ought to pick up 2X4’s MCMLII. It is proof that the filthiest, unfathomable depths of the human condition, often give rise to the best things life—and certainly heavy music—has to offer.
For Fans Of: Beacons, I AM, Advocate, Kingmaker, Drowning.
By: Connor Welsh