Album: Child of Dark
Remember the iconic monologue from Bane in The Dark Knight Rises? The one about being born in darkness or adopting it, so on, so forth–I’m going to assume you know the speech I’m talking about. Well, a similar dichotomy faces New Jersey deathcore act, Borderlines. With their debut EP, Reborn, the band included a variety of progressive and bouncy metalcore influence into their sound that makes it hard to say they were truly born of the dark, dissonant sound they have since adopted on the groundbreaking single “Void of Want,” and more importantly, their sophomore studio effort, Child of Dark. However, just because they might not have spawned from the sinister depths of darkness does not mean they aren’t damn good at utilizing it. Borderlines have grown from a quick-but-crushing progressive metalcore outfit to one that holds down deathcore’s heavier and grittier end of the spectrum. Child of Dark is a ruthless example of no-holds-barred ferocity, combining chug-heavy breakdowns with spine-snapping slams and skin-peeling riffs to create an experience that is both mind-bogglingly heavy yet monstrously metallic in one.
Listening carefully to Borderlines’ instrumentation reveals their position at the crowded crossroads of heavy hardcore, thrashing metalcore and devastating deathcore—while ominous clouds of doom metal and groove loom overhead. Percussionist Chris Nace defines this amalagam of styles—with “Beg” tossing and turning back and forth between two-steppy, energetic patterns a la beatdown and heavy hardcore to speedy blast beats and bold fills straight out of a late-2000s deathcore playbook. The lead single, “Cadavers,” sees Nace utilizing more atmosphere in between his segments of scalding speed—working with bassist Nolan Parker to create a fearsome low-end that stands a sturdy risk of breaking the listener’s headphones. “Cadavers,” as well as Child of Dark’s strongest song, “Gambo,” see Nace and Parker working better than ever, playing in dialectic harmony to completely obliterate the listener. On these tracks, Nace flies back and forth from speedy patterns and fills to meaty breakdowns and slams—and Parker shadows him incessantly. Borderlines’ beefy low end doesn’t end there, however—as guitarists Anthony Izworski and Benjamin Nelson are more than capable of matching Parker’s thick bass tone with hyperdissonant, incredibly downtuned and crushing chugs. Izworski and Nelson are the ideal compliment to Nace’s dynamic work behind the kit—and “Gambo” is an incredible example. Where Nace is speedy, Izworski and Nelson are as well, if not more so. The duo drop some mesmerizing riffs (“Hungry” sees this as well) just as easily as they hit the listener with ten-ton breakdowns guaranteed to flatten them in seconds (the ending of “Gambo” does this better than most). Guided by Nace and Parker, Izworski and Nelson wreak absolute havok throughout the EP, with more than enough heaviness and dissonance to give Child of Dark it’s name.
Where Borderlines’ musicianship ebbs back and forth between energetic, fast-paced ferocity and low, slow, skull-splitting brutality, frontman Carmen Gumina is absolutely uncompromising throughout Child of Dark’s entirety. Gumina has some of the grittiest and most gruesome vocals in the heavy music underground—hitting lows on “Black Bird” and “Gambo” that sound almost Tom Barber-esque, while letting loose with a harsh mid-range yell on “Beg” that allows (most) of his lyrics to actually be understood. Gumina’s vocals lack a distinct high range, but more than make up for it with incredible endurance and unapologetically heavy low bellows—perfectly complementing the spacious, sludgy breakdowns during “Gambo” and “Hungry,” yet more than able to keep pace with the songs’ quicker portions. Where many of Gumina’s lyrics become lost in translation, it seems besides the point—as there is a good chance listener’s will be too distracted by his gurgling, wet and low tone to even notice.
Child of Dark sees Borderlines crafting two truly incredible songs (“Beg” and “Gambo”), two better-than-solid songs (“Cadavers” and “Hungry”) and… “Black Bird,” which is unremarkable at best—all of which topped off with great production that plays to the band’s gritty and dark dynamic. Where only “Beg” and “Gambo” approach the insanity that is “Void of Want,” they are still incredible in their own right—and even “Black Bird” sees Borderlines working well together; simply lacking in the writing department to give the song enough memorable material to really stick. Child of Dark has no songs that are truly skip-worthy and two to three songs that will likely get replayed time and time again—making their sophomore EP a remarkable success, and sees Borderlines truly defining a border that divides (or rather, unites) several styles of distinct heavy music.
For Fans Of: Extortionist, Varials, VCTMS, Oceano, Lorna Shore
By: Connor Welsh