I recently received a nice message from one of the guitarists in this band, Nathan, who was looking for a review for their new 7" entitled Closed Casket. After looking them up and seeing their description was "Pittsburgh Heavy Shit" I was a bit apprehensive that their sound would be riddled with nothing but meaningless breakdowns and loud noises. Luckily, my ignorance to this band was quickly done away with, as this immediately became one of my favorite EPs of 2013.
This three song EP starts off with the title track, "Closed Casket." We're introduced to the band with one lone guitar playing a melancholic arpeggiated progression accompanied by screams of poetic lyrics that seem far away. My favorite example of this are the lines "I sifted/my hands through the thorn bush/To show myself that I was real/I held your words closely to my ears." We're given their full wall of sound at around two minutes through the track, with a dissonant chord progression and caustic high-pitched screams reminiscent of Dylan from Full of Hell. There's lots of ground covered here sonically speaking, which will be a welcome theme throughout Closed Casket.
Next up is my personal favorite track of the three, "Ox King." Here we hear the southern influence that the band has, which you could draw comparisons to bands like Every Time I Die or Vices (the one from Florda). It starts with a pretty standard beefy power-chord progression, but with the line "So please don't tell daddy his little girl's done wrong" they switch up the dynamic to be more of a breakdown with the chords palm muted and a half-time feel in the drums. It might not sound like a lot on paper, but let me assure you I nearly punched a hole in my desk listening to it, it gets me every time. It's clear these guys know what they're doing songwriting-wise also. For example, the build up to the chorus is immense, and they play on dynamics very well. The chorus itself is very memorable, and luckily they come back to it a few times. In this type of music, sometimes it's hard for bands' songs to stay memorable just because of the amount of changes the song goes through. The fact that there's parts in this music that will want you to come back to the record is a testament to knowing what the song needs and a good sense of songwriting. This one is the most straightforward compositionally, and it works very well due to the even more chaotic and unpredictable nature of the other songs.
Last up is "Hark," arguably the most intense song on this 7". The vocals to me shine the most on this song, although they're impressive throughout. They're so caustic and vitriolic, and match the intensity brought on by the sonic onslaught of the rest of the band. Musically, it gets off to a quick start, but not before long you'll be banging your head to the infectious grooves thanks to some great drumming and rhythmic guitar playing. It's hard to ignore the abrasiveness of this track, especially when the gang vocals kick in at "His army can't stop us." There's a bit of a calm point in the song, where the vocalist goes to a spoken-word type of approach and delivers the most bleak line on these three songs-"Everything dies if you're willing to wait." They tease at end with a breakdown that Stray From The Path wishes they wrote-but then throws you in for a loop and ends on the line they introduced as the first one on the track.
The guitars on this record are not only very technical, but are incredibly tight with the drums. There's also two guitar players on this record, and you can clearly tell. There's added parts that fill out the sound perfectly, like the cringe-inducing dissonant double-stops in "Hark" or the layered single-note lines drenched in delay and reverb in "Closed Casket." To capture all of this and do it this well is not easy considering there are many tempo changes, odd time signatures, and Killing Thing are able to do this all while keeping the songs fresh and memorable.
The only critique I have for this 7": I just wish it were longer. I need to hear more from this band, I would've loved this release to have five songs but I'll just have to wait. If you're a fan of any type of metallic hardcore, this is a newer band you must check out. They take everything I love about underground and heavy music and throw it into these three songs with a vigor that bands twice their age fail to do. Great songwriting, impressive musicianship, poetic and thought-provoking lyrics is what you'll find here. You can stream it in the embedded link and pick up the 7" via Soft Speak Records.
Genre: Hardcore / Folk
Label: Soft Speak Records
Site: Related Link
Similar: Entombed, Converge, Poison the Well, Old Wounds, Every Time I Die, Oathbreaker, Bastions, Vices (FL)
- Closed Casket
- Ox King