While there is a staggering amount of diversity in today’s metal scene, and while I personally think the contemporary metal scene is excellent, I can definitely see why a lot of metal elitists claim it to be “boring” and “by-the-numbers”. In many instances, a great and promising idea will come along (djent, for example), and there will be a lot of great bands carrying the torch for a while (Periphery, Cloudkicker, TesseracT), and then that idea will just be completely drowned in a flashflood of mediocrity or just utter shite. It really says a lot when probably my favourite metal release of 2014 so far is an album by a trio of Japanese teen idols whose sound is oft-described as “kawaii metal”.
If there’s any genre I feel truly sorry for these days, it’s hardcore punk. Sure, bands like 7 Seconds, Converge and Black Flag are still making music, and we’ve seen some great 21st century hardcore bands like Stray from the Path and While She Sleeps emerge, but hardcore is far less focal than it used to be, and nowadays the genre is mostly known for having spawned post-hardcore bands like Sleeping with Sirens, which, if “she” is Audrey Hepburn and Kellin Quinn is James Dean, then the other bands I just named are fucking Bruce Lee by comparison.
The Loss is a Seattle-based hardcore punk group that touts itself as “having more in common with hardcore basement parties than PBR-soaked beard punk”. Metal fans of Washington may be familiar with one of the group’s guitarists, Ian Reas, whom is most well-known as one of the DJs on 99.9 KISW’s Metal Shop, which, having listened to it on multiple occasions, I can tell you is the most brutal four hours of every week.
While The Loss has one foot firmly planted in the hardcore punk genre, the band noticeably builds onto that sound with a handful of other styles throughout the course of their second release Last Rites, including late-90s mathcore, Adrenaline Mob-esque made-for-radio hard rock, and atmospheric, Cloud Nothings-like post-hardcore. In a sense, this makes the group reminiscent of other crossover hardcore bands like I Am Heresy and Every Time I Die, and while it is admirable to see another band undergoing this ambitious style, Last Rites suffers majorly from a lack of song development.
Last Rites contains four tracks, with the longest one clocking in at two-and-a-half minutes for a combined total of 9 minutes and 14 seconds. However, each song presented just feels incomplete. While I will concede that all four songs have great setups, they all end far before they have a chance to get started.
I know that the most obvious rebuttal to this claim is, “Well, what do you want? It’s a hardcore album. Hardcore albums have short songs all the time. That’s what helps make them so special.” Well, yes, hardcore albums do have brief songs on their albums quite frequently. However, the albums that do this are generally meant to be listened to all at once, with each song being at least partially connected to each other, so they feel complementary. Furthermore, they’re always balanced nicely by longer, more complete songs.
The Loss’ latest doesn’t have that. Instead, it sounds more like a small collection of short demoes intended for release as bonus content for a full-length release. For what it’s worth, though, the demoes are well-made, and there was definitely a lot of talent behind the reigns here. If the songs were longer and were established further, it could’ve been something truly wonderful.
A recommendation for Last Rites would have to come with a large asterisk next to it. If Every Time I Die-style crossover thrash gets your rocks off and you aren’t as cynical about song length as I am, then you may be satisfied with listening to this release, because there are some good moments throughout (I particularly enjoyed the third track “I’m No Sam King”. You can stream Last Rites on La Escalera Records’ Bandcamp page, and I’d recommend you do before you decide whether or not to buy it. Your mileage may vary.
I guess if you compare The Loss to contemporary post-hardcore bands like Falling in Reverse, For All Those Sleeping and the roughly 8.7 billion garage bands out there trying desperately to be letlive., these guys are a pretty major cut above them. I’d say that The Loss is way more of an All Stars Tour band than a Warped Tour band, so take that for what you will.
Until next time, don’t forget to be awesome.