Artists: SeeYouSpaceCowboy and If I Die First
Album: A Sure Disaster – Split EP
The last several years have seen a relative resurgence—driven by nostalgia, no doubt—of bands and styles popular in the early 2000s. On one hand, I’m a little bummed—because I guess that makes me old or something—but for the most part, this resurgence has brought a fresh new breath of life into heavy music—which, until recently, felt like it was gasping for air. A Sure Disaster encompasses this rejuvenation perfectly by the combined efforts of SeeYouSpaceCowboy and If I Die First. Where the former is a break-neck band that combines the spastic energy of mathcore with the sassy overtones and white-belt-chique of the 2000s scene, If I Die First is a hearkening to the days when suburbanites and the unindicted would refer to everything with screamed vocals “screamo.” The result are two brand new songs by each band with a stellar collaboration cut that serve as an immersive throwback while still feeling contemporary and sharp in its production.
When last we heard from SeeYouSpaceCowboy, it was on the sprawling and immensely diverse The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds—a lengthy release that touched on everything from grind-riddled mathcore to ambient and melodic post-hardcore. A Sure Disaster sees the band dialing back on the more chaotic and ethereal components of their dynamic in favor for a frantic-yet-catchy middle ground and stands as both their most engaging, accessible and enthralling material to date. “Modernizing the Myth of Sisyphus” sees jarring fretwork blarring alongside raunchy, ruthless percussion—and a closing segment that takes me right back to the halcyon days of Duck Duck Goose’s Noise, Noise & More Noise. Meanwhile, their work on “bloodstainedeyes,” alongside If I Die First, is as ambient as their half of the EP gets, even as it oscillates hither and to into moments of spastic aggression. The band’s instrumentation ranges from primal, visceral breakdowns to off-the-wall leads with dense, groovy basswork and hits just about everything in between, with vocals that are sung in a soaring fashion, juxtaposed brilliantly against the band’s dissonant soundscape—or are raw, flesh-rending screams. Once more, “Modernizing the Myth of Sisyphus” begs for special attention, with a closing that can only really be described (and, by the band as such) as sassy—a chant that takes me back to flatironed hair and shirts two sizes too small. While it’s easy to say that you should check out SeeYouSpaceCowboy because they sound like my favorite bands from decades past (and you should), they truthfull offer more than that—they’re a veritable bridge between the youthful intensity of 2000s mathcore and contemporary songwriting and production from 2021.
If I Die First
If SeeYouSpaceCowboy are the rollicking pre-teen strung out on too much sugar, rampaging through grandmother’s house like a bull in a china shop, If I Die First are the very sound of pubertal-onset moodiness accentuated by an early highschool heartbreak. Blending soaring choruses and segments of serene singing with scathing screams that declare immolating self-hatred, If I Die First feel like the first time you really related to Hawthorne Heights lyrics—if that makes sense. Where “Mirror Mirror, This Is Nothing Like You Promised” is as catchy as it is intense, “My Nightmares Would Do Numbers as Horror Movies” sees the band at their heaviest (discounting their collaborative efforts with SeeYouSpaceCowboy on “bloodstainedeyes”.) If I Die First take the raw potential abundant on the band’s debut EP and channel it brilliantly through more mature songwriting and crisp, sharp production that lends more distinct tones to their guitar and bass respectively. While the band don’t have the technical intricacy of their colleagues, they still manage to pack a walloping punch when needed—and create choruses that will practically live in the listener’s head. The band capture the turn-of-the-decade (2009-2010, not 2019-2020) heavy/soft dynamic of alternative, emo and post-hardcore beautifully without sounding like a cookie-cutter modern reboot; something so many bands have attempted but missed by moderately wide margins.
Together, SeeYouSpaceCowboy and If I Die First create a figurative crash-course/”Incase You Missed It” covering several of my favorite elements abundant within heavy music during the time I was just getting hooked on it. Beyond simple nostalgia, the bands manage to effectively blend eviscerating aggression, heart-melting emotion and fun, catchy songwriting all into one easily-digestible package that stands as what I’d consider to be the strongest EP of 2021 to date. The only downfall? I wish there was about ten times more of it—because while the band might have made A Sure Disaster, this release is anything but.
If I Die First: 5/5
Total Score: 10/10
For Fans Of: Drop Dead, Gorgeous, Duck Duck Goose, Chiodos, HeavyHeavyLowLow
By: Connor Welsh