REVIEW: In Trenches – Signals [2015]


Artist: In Trenches 

Album: Signals


Reinvention is stereotyped as being something done by well-aged bands who have become stale and monotonous—and tends to appear either following a lineup change, or shortly before an impending breakup. With few notable exceptions, a revision to a band’s style significant enough to warrant the term “reinvention” is a last measure to prevent a collapse that usually occurs anyways. But what happens when the stereotype is cast asunder? Case in point, Albany aggressors In Trenches. Following their well-written but questionably produced debut, the quintet are back with a sound that is not only fresh in terms of their previous effort, but in terms of the entire genre. Blurring the line between metalcore and deathcore with a haze of progression and melody, In Trenches’ Signals sees the band ditching their beatdown deathcore dynamic in favor of a more intelligent style of heaviness that will sink its teeth into the listener and shake them until they’re bereft of life.

Where In Trenches previously favored brute force and belligerent breakdowns over creative song structure, those days are ancient history. Signals is the sound of In Trenches batting down the hatches and waging an all out war on the listener’s sanity with razor-sharp riffs, dizzying drumming and—of course—relentless, chug-driven aggression that makes the In Trenches of old look as light as a feather. Percussionist Chad Sutliff embraces influences from punchy, punk-driven hardcore to raunchy—bordering on slam-laden—deathcore. “Gone, Not Forgotten” sees him employing the former, combining driving energy with uplifting melody, synchronizing beautifully with bassist Tom Rehor. However, when the brutalizing “The Support” and “A Failing Existence” roll around, Rehor and Sutliff’s syncope go from peaceful to punishing. Here, the duo are barbaric—with Sutliff’s fills and flattening double bass battering the listener as Rehor coats their corpse in kerosine and lights it ablaze. The duo are a dynamic canvas that serves as a sprawling foundation for guitarists Gabe Father and James Keller to paint precise, precarious and astonishing artistic displays of furious fretwork. “Gone, Not Forgotten” as well as the album’s title track are exemplary displays of the duo’s ability to blend melody and murky aggression. As a corollary, “Distances” and “A Failing Aggression” are more bottom-heavy tracks with low, dissonant grooves ebbing and flowing into dastardly, demolishing breakdowns. Father and Keller crush the listener with carefully crafted diversity that puts shame to the band’s previous displays of humdrum deathcore.

In keeping with their remarkable musical renovation, In Trenches’ vocal element has become more than hodgepodge barking and growling to a bludgeoning, brute backdrop. Where Aftermath wasn’t a bad effort by any means, it was rough around the edges at best. Signals, on the other hand, is far from rough, and offers a stunning cornucopia of engaging, creative vocal patterns and guest vocalists to make it a stand-out effort. Frontman Jamie Rabideau provides a ruthless, visceral growl that soars into skin-peeling shrieks and grating, grisly mids that oscillate smoothly—yet energetically—throughout the album to keep the listener engaged. From the first shout of “The Deepening,” Rabideau lets loose with barks and growls as rabid as a pack of wild wolves. “Gone, Not Forgotten” is an example of In Trenches stepping out of their confit zone, using smooth cleans to contrast Rabideau’s ruthless shouts. “The Support” is another example of Rabideau—and the band’s—brilliance, as his range is as remarkable as his stamina.

In Trenches’ new sound is an unbelievable leap from their previous sound, but also a marked blend of styles that heavy music is woefully lacking. Several moments—like those in “Gone, Not Forgotten” and “The Deepening”—place brutality alongside uplifting melody, giving In Trenches a well-rounded sound and set of skills. Meanwhile, “The Support” is a crushing display of dissonant savagery, no holds barred. Simply put, Signals is this young band firing on all cylinders, pushing the limits not only on their own talents and style, but on the conventional categorization employed by genre nazis around the world.

If you want proof that renovation isn’t a last-ditch effort attempted by dying bands, give In Trenches a chance. Signals will have you entrenched in heaviness and immersed in progression in melody—trapped—but loving every second of it.



For Fans Of: Volumes, For All I Am, Towers, A Wake In Providence

By: Connor Welsh