Album: Infinite III – EP
It’s one thing to become known for something—it’s a simple matter of association, often a matter of determination and persistence more than skill. However, to transcend simply being known for something and becoming synonymous with it is a different matter; it is to capture the truest essence of something and emulate it with the entirety of your energy. It is to become an icon—the name and face that people see when whatever it is you do comes up in conversation.
Chicago-based progressive metalcore act Rooks, in that sense, are synonymous with bold, bouncy heavy music.
Taking intense, downtuned guitars and energetic percussion, the band defined what it was to bounce and groove with their early efforts—and after a long hiatus, Rooks are back, doing exactly what they do best. Still dark, gritty and oppressively heavy, yet curiously catchy and loaded with metric tons of bounce, Infinite III is a stellar testament to Rooks’ instrumental and songwriting talent, proving the truly limitless nature of their abilities.
It’s been quite some time since Rooks have graced the heavy music world with their presence—and after countless errant Facebook posts and tweets from fans daydreaming about the rebirth ofthe Chicago overlords of oppressive groove, they’re back—and quite possibly better than ever. From the first few seconds of “Mugen” all the way to the end of the dizzying “12-1,” Rooks hammer their way into the listener’s head—with percussionist Delos Germaine at the very center. Keeping a truly bouncy and bold candor throughout the entirety of Infinite III, Germaine’s drumming is a picture perfect example of an amalgamation between belligerent, straightforward aggression and flashy fills mixed with magnificent technicality. “Countermeasure,” the EP’s lone single, set the stage for this—highlighting Germaine’s ability to sneak fleet footwork into tracks or bewilder the listener with bizarre polyrhythms—but tracks like “Mugen” or “12-1” are where he truly shines. Here, he works dynamically with bassist Miguel Amor and guitarist Jeremy Caroll, reminding the listener why—and how—the band came to represent everything bouncy about metalcore. Amor’s snappy, subtle bass lurks in the background, adding depth to Germaine’s polished, powerful kick drum, while Caroll does what he does best—combine crushing heaviness with creative, ear-catching twists and turns that will snap the listener’s neck; whether it’s with errant brutality or headbang-induced atrophy.
While Rooks’ 2016 iteration features the original instrumentalists from the band’s previous efforts, their frontman is a new addition—even if his voice isn’t necessarily new to the densely-packed Illinois metalcore scene. Vocalist Eli Martinez (Downpour, Outlaw, Volition) sets forth on Infinite III with big shoes to fill—a task he readily accomplishes. Those familiar with Martinez know to expect nothing short of greatness; which is exactly what they get with his addition to the Rooks crew. “Swarm” sees him exploiting eerie and haunting depths of his vocal range he has yet to explore—while “Countermeasure” sees him at his most resilient and proud yet, boldly repeating “I will never fall in line.” Martinez’s grating, gritty and full-bodied mid-range yell is gargantuan—erupting through the tightly-knit and and densely arranged instrumentation to lacerate the listener’s auditory canals in ways they didn’t even think possible. While Martinez’s display of dominance is brief (as is all of Infinite III), it is enchanting and engrossing—bound to ensnare new fans and satisfy old.
To mention Infinite III’s brevity is to draw attention to its only true “flaw.” Given the intensity and awe-inspiring nature of “Mugen” et al., seeing the band release only four years after nearly that many years silent is slightly disappointing. That said, these four tracks are all around four minutes (or more) a piece, making them engrossing and incredible even if the overall release is brief. To be perfectly blunt, Rooks have given 2016 the best “comeback” release yet—forcing the listener to pray that their contributions to heavy music will continue to carry on indefinitely.
For Fans Of: Volition, Downpour, Barrier, Outlaw, Yuth Forever
By: Connor Welsh