Artist: Those Are Them
Album: Episode One (EP)
Water is a wonderful thing—really. When is the last time you had the opportunity to reflect on what a dynamic and exceptional molecule it really is? It’s one of the few liquids that is densest in a fluid state, has exceptional surface tension, a useful specific heat—all of its chemical components alone are the things of a scientist’s wet dream. However, what is truly magnificent about water is how it behaves in nature: more specifically, its simultaneous requirement for even the most rudimentary life forms, and its ability to take life away; its true whimsicality. Thunderstorms, for example—marvelous, booming bastions of nature that start as subtle trickles but can morph into torrential, unstoppable downpours. In this respect, Canadian progressive metalcore act Those Are Them, and their debut EP, Episode One, are just like a thunderstorm. Combining violent outbursts of electronically influenced heaviness with creeping, stunning progression, Those Are Them have all the subtlety and tact of Mother Nature, with all the violence and aggression of her most fearsome creations.
Beginning softly and serenely, Episode One creeps into the listener’s ears with “Jeeps Creeps,” a song that displays the bands marvelous penchant for the progressive. The song is a seven and a half minute journey which begins as softly as a summer mist, but ends as violently as a Spring storm, sweeping the listener away in a flood of brilliantly crafted technicality and mind-melting heaviness. “Robin Hood” follows a similar tactic, mish-mashing soft, progressive and clear guitar tones with splashy, bouncy drumming which quickly morphs into a monsoon of misanthropic brutality. While the listener might at first scan through the album and be inclined to skip these longer tracks, labeling them as daunting, that would be nothing but folly. These two epic yarns of songs provide a unique aspect to Those Are Them’s sound which enables them to leave their peers in the dust. The truth is simple, and for many artists in the genre, unfortunate: while many bands simply don’t have the creativity and brilliant songwriting ability to write seven minute long tracks without them getting samey and boring, Those Are Them do, and “Jeeps Creeps” is pure, unadulterated proof.
This doesn’t mean that the listener should ignore the shorter tracks on Episode One either. These tracks are condensed, unbridled spats of the progressive fury like that found on “Jeeps Creeps.” For instance, “J.” features dynamic, jarring grooves which dive down into split-second skin shredding sections of brutality which leave the listener in awe—only to jump back up into the realm of ethereal shredding and groove before the listener knows what hit them. Likewise, the “Speed Racer” two-track combo which concludes the album is home to some of the most eclectic moments Those Are Them have to offer—with a diverse, engaging vocal dynamic which ranges from a meaty, thick bellow to a visceral, raw yell. Those Are Them jump so quickly around the “board” of progressive metalcore with such concise movements that it is simply impossible for the listener to get bored. However, the real beauty is this: while Those Are Them move unpredictably from furiously fretted grooves to eccentric electronic elements, they don’t move more quickly than the listener can follow.
The manner with which Those Are Them flow from ball-and-chain, anvil-like heaviness to soft, fluffy and ethereal is nothing short of stunning. What’s even more stunning is that while Episode One shows such stellar flow within longer songs, and within shorter ones, the entire release follows the same pattern. Episode One doesn’t just flow on a track-to-track basis, but across the entire release as a whole. There is no awkward loss of continuity, nor is there a lull in the action where the listener feels compelled to skip a section—each moment is brimming with either soulful shredding, tremolo-picked technicality, spine-shrinking heaviness or some combination thereof. “Brightly Colored V-Necks” is one such example, where the track kicks off with a pumping, throbbing melodic hardcore feel, but ends with clear, noodling shred and a jarring, stuttering breakdown—studded with ambient electronic effects. Then, before the listener even thinks the song could be drawing to a close, “Robin Hood” leaps to the rescue and soothes the listener into the feel of an all-new (and incredibly detailed) song.
Don’t let the corny early-2000’s band name or silly, three-years-ago post-hardcore song titles fool you—Those Are Them’s Episode One is a completely comprehensive and stunning take on progressive, hard-hitting and thoughtful metalcore. With sections that ebb and flow as smoothly as the great lakes, and portions which slam as hard as Pacific tidal waves, this EP is as violent, unpredictable and miraculous as Mother Nature herself.
For Fans Of: Volumes, Structures, Substructure, Auras, Visionaries
By: Connor Welsh