I'll be blunt, I went to skim over this record with low expectations. I skipped straight to the middle of the first track and the hooks sunk in immediately. Astonished and blown away, I had to double take, Is this really Iwrestledabearonce? To be fair it was their sound, the maniacal over the top noise shredding was present but this was a focused assault vehicle of grooving brutality breaking the speed limit. Iwrestledabearonce came out of the naughties Deathcore scene as a directionless mismatch of genre mashing thrown together with a thick slice of cheese. They produced a fantastic hit with "Tastes like kevin bacon" but from the get go showed a lack of vision and came across as a group simply in the moment, mixing ideas and bipolar sounds together while not taking themselves or the music seriously.
Fast forward to 2015 and the band have been through some lineup changes across the last six records and most noticeably the replacement of their singer with another female vocalist who drops in the occasional strong clean vocals and sounded very familiar to her predecessor, although its been some time since I'd last listened to this band. Initially the aesthetic change didn't feel that drastic with this record but going back over their previous releases the change is massive and the most distinguished characteristic that survived is the frantic noise oriented guitar shredding, no doubt the result of the only surviving member lead guitarist Steven Bradly.
"Hail Mary" opens up with the fade in of chaotic noise shredding before throwing us in the deep end with tight, choppy rhythmic drum blasting and discordant riffs, steadily transitioning into a bouncy groove riff that sets the tone for a vigorous session of furious noise militia hurtling toward the listener with plenty of coordinated grooves and mosher riffs in the design. Its these break out moments that give the record continuity and refreshment that makes the textural onslaught manageable alongside these head banger moments. The consistency runs from start to end with every track delivering something unique and interesting in comparison to one another, its a fruitful offering of which listen after listen is yet to tire on me.
Breaking down the groups sound it becomes apparent it revolves around the guitars almost exclusively, with drums providing an accompanying punishing strike and singer LaPlante's screams becoming an inoffensive layer of rhythmic noise through her discernible screams. On "Wade In The Water" some strong electronic noises surface through which makes one wonder how much of the crazy frenetic noises are made with the guitar. Either way the textures are delightful on the riff fest that plays up tireless bizarre guitar squeaks and squeals at lightning pace between modern metallic riffage ranging a broader spectrum of grooves and styles that come into play between the colorful chaos.
Initially I felt the clean vocals were a little unnecessary, but after countless plays they have crafted some of the records best moments with LaPlante's best coming from her strong harmonious leads. My excitement for this record still hasn't died down after many listens and I have very little to criticize. This was a refreshing metal record of the "Math Metal" variety that doesn't let up, however the production despite being a modern craft of audacity doesn't quite sparkle as much as some other records Ive heard this year. A big surprise and if they can improve on this record then the future is very bright for them. This has definitely left me in anticipation of the next release.