Everyone needs a change of pace–whether it’s from food, friends or family, some times, you just need to break the routine and try something different. The same can be true for music. While no doubt, this Summer, let alone the entire year, has been strife with both long-awaited and sneak-attack hit releases from a plethora of polished, refined and technical “core” artists, bass-drops and robustly effect-laden albums can only last for so long before they start to sound the same. Enter thrash-influenced hardcore quintet Denouncer, a knight in shining armor, providing a stellar, rugged and brutally honest break from routine with their debut album, Separation.
Right from the get-go, Separation provides a rollicking, new take on an old-school hardcore feel. Album opener “Trapped” hits you like a double-barrel shotgun blast to the sternum, kicking off with shrill, rasping shouts and rugged, pounding drums. Through the frenetic discord, the listener can just barely make out a grimy guitar tone, and as the song begins to take shape, the guitar becomes more driving and prominent as it molds into a thrashing riff. Just as all of the elements of the song seem to come together, they’re blown apart by a groove-driven breakdown, and, before the listener has a chance to catch their breath and lift their jaws from the floor, the song is done.
In this manner, Denouncer keep Separation roaring along at a break-neck pace, where the only breaks the listener gets are build-up sections to the next heavy, grinding groove or mosh-friendly beatdown. Packed with splashy cymbals, feedback and jarring, rambunctious guitar, the aggressive maelstrom that these Floridian thrashers have constructed is so packed and dense with nihilistically-fueled material that, frankly, it doesn’t have time to “take it easy” or slow down in the slightest. However, while Separation is certainly rough around the edges, it features brief moments where melody and melancholy fuse–for however short a time–to create a change in the soundscape, which often allow the oddly poetic nature of the lyrics to shine their brightest, even through the rasping, atonal screams and crushing dissonance of the guitar. Title track “Separation” displays this most profusely, featuring down-tempo sections which are equal parts heavy, doom-like and melodic, creating an odd fusion, which, when accompanied by the dark lyrics, create a wonderfully cynic feel.
This cynic, downtrodden feel might not be for everyone, however. While Separation’s crushing and straightforward fusion of thrash and hardcore is a wonderful break from the world of bass-blasting, chugga-lugga breakdowns and mind-numbingly fast blast beats, it can at the same time, be overbearing. Overbearing is a loaded phrase, though, because there are times where the album bottlenecks (tracks like “Deathbed” and “Solitude” especially) and the listener gets claustrophobic, almost. While it might feel a little bizarre and almost crowded, it’s an intentional atmosphere that’s created brilliantly to mirror the lyrical content of the track. Simply put, it’s expertly done, but might not be for everyone.
Take a step back, and look at what you’ve been listening to recently. If you’re anything like me, your “recently played” list is likely packed with breakdowns, blast beats, piq squeals and studio-crafted effects. While there’s nothing wrong with that, maybe it’s time to separate yourself from the masses of metal-and-death-core releases sweeping the internet and immerse yourself in the truly unique and resonant (if not remarkably dissonant) release that is Denouncer’s Separation.
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism