Artist: We Gave it Hell
The human mind—and by extension, the human condition—is a dizzying concept. In many ways, it’s cyclic, in that we busy ourselves by building testaments to our own technical prowess and greed only for them to collapse upon us—or more likely—for us to destroy them and start anew, desperate to be better and bigger than before. Psychologically, we are just as backwards, hurling ourselves at people who don’t love us, working our fingers to stubs to please masters who don’t care.
It’s no wonder that, now, in 2018, we’ve lost our way. Hell, it’s a wonder that it took us this long to do it.
We Gave it Hell capture that listless maze of humanity’s bizarre existence emotionally and objectively on the aptly titled Labyrinth. A mesmerizing collection of songs that span from anthemic, punchy progressive metalcore a la Architects to more mellow and collective moments of introspection (akin to what Northlane were probably trying for on Mesmer), the band’s debut full-length is an adventure through a spectrum of sensations. Subtle yet packed with enough of a punch to make a mark, Labyrinth will have the listener revisiting it well into 2018, attempting to decipher its many meanings.
Labyrinth uses its unpredictable shifts between melody, melancholy and masterful heaviness to keep the listener lost, wandering its halls until every second becomes secondhand. We Gave it Hell—While not an overtly technical band—use enough progressive writing and element to steer clear of being cleanly labeled “another heavy/soft metalcore band”…even if, at the end of the day, they certainly meat many of the qualifications to fall in that category. Songs like the introductory “Prayer” and “Darkman” are more energetic and eviscerating, at several points sounding akin to Architects with their huge, anthemic song structure and climactic breakdowns. At the core of this end if We Gave it Hell’s dynamic, percussionist Parker Adsit dominates, using a thick kick drum and sharp snare, sprinkled with quick fills and fun patterns, to give the band a beefy, bold back-bone. This is also true in the more balanced “Evergreen,” where Adsit works with bassist Ryan Avery to keep a fluid, groovy low end that enables the band to move from malicious aggression to marvelous atmosphere without a skipping a beat. Then, there are songs like “O.B.E.,” or “Labyrinth,” which are much more subtle. This is especially true of “O.B.E.,” which is, predominantly, a minimal beat with ethereal touches from guitarists Adam Garcia and Drew Guerrero. Where songs like “Tyrant” or “Mapmaker” see the duo at their grisly and grooviest, the aforementioned more mellow numbers see Garcia and Guerrero taking it easy, giving the listener reprieve between bouts of ruthless riffing and grooving. While the two don’t shred and solo their way to stardom, they use odd patterns and bounce off each other in a dialectic fashion, building a behemoth Of catchy, groovy metalcore betwixt their fingers.
Where We Gave it Hell use a variable and oscillatory dynamic in their musicianship, the vocal efforts of frontman Taylor Adsit follow suit. Adsit’s roars range from shrill and sharp to bitter and burly, scraping terrestrial lows and touching the sky all without a jagged transition or awkward, unpalatable middle range. In keeping with Labyrinth’s musicianship, Adsit’s vocals aren’t a game changer for the genre—they’re well done with thought out and meaningful lyrics, but they don’t break new ground (which is fine, not every vocalist can be expected to alter ones perception of a genre). Adsit’s bellows on “Darkman” and “Mapmaker” are masterful, as is the insanely catchy chorus sections of “Death Drive,” and the opening section of “O.B.E.” Each area where Adsit strives, he succeeds, whether it be lyrically or vocally, in making an impression on the listener and—most importantly—giving the dynamic soundscape a well-matched voice.
As you may have guessed, the only issue staring down Labyrinth is that it doesn’t quite go far enough to separate itself from We Gave it Hell’s peers. While a great majority of the songs are good—and a few are even excellent—the album still finds itself easily pigeon-holed into the “kinda groovy Metalcore” landfill that’s comprised of God knows how many 2017 debut records. Furthermore, while “O.B.E.” Is a great interlude-style track and does an excellent job of showing the band’s more mellow talents, it drags on forever and could have been about one minute when it’s closer to four instead. It feels repetitive and, after one or two listens through the album, is almost totally skippable. That aside, Labyrinth is great—intelligent and energetic, catchy and creative—giving Fans Of metalcore (+/- prog labeling) something to cling tightly to in 2018’s opening weeks.
For Fans Of: Architects, Volumes, In Cycles, In Circles, Mothersound
By: Connor Welsh