Review Summary: "Emotional" hardcore perfection.
In a blend of chaotic emotional intensity and precise beauty, Jamie Behar, Kevin Roche and Steve Roche find a realm of untouched hardcore catharsis. "The Heat Death of the Universe" Off Minor's first LP is a journey of heart felt monologues built around the difficulties of the respective band member's lives. On this album their troubles seem to deal with the issue of suicide and death, both in terms of inward struggles and dealing with the consequences of the choices those around them have made. With song titles like "Staring Down the Barrel of Limited Options," and lyrics like "This hand on this gun to my head is my own," the focus of the album is evident and, in my opinion, perfectly reflect.
Musically, there is no comparison to Off Minor in the hardcore scene. Their skill, originality, and vast appreciation of various genres helps their expressions reflect technical prowess as well as be an emotional outlet. The dynamic buildups and crescendos found on this album are prefect sonic reinterpretations of the bipolar nature of the overlying concept of the album. It is perhaps telling that Off Minor have never been as calm or as resolute in terms of their approach to creating music since the making of this album. Songs like "Monday Morning Quarterback" toss and turn through beautiful near jazz style arrangements into some of the most aggressive and abrasive hardcore ever released. The untraditional approach taken to their respective instruments helps Off Minor output the same type of cathartic release normally found in only hardcore and transpose it into fully instrumental pieces that don't mock the current post-rock trend of build-up and release, but instead dredge into elastics and personal realms of musical exploration. Off Minor's music is not able to be expressed as "epic" at any point of "The Heat Death Of the Universe" because it is always collapsing in on itself to represent something much more selfish and single minded; its band members own experiences.
The sound of this record is at times so personal it seems almost uncomfortable to listen to. Its lyrics could as easily have been taken straight from any of the members' personal journals or even their own conversations. This is an album completely removed from the pretension its genre embraces. This may be due to the fact that it isn't a clear cut deliberate explosion of sound, but instead it has a dominating reliance on clean tones and silence. The method could be traced back to the previous member's band Saetia, but obviously the members in Off Minor have taken time to develop beyond the teenage angst of that group.
"The Heat Death of the Universe" should be considered one of the most ample examples of 21st century music. With its heart-on-the-sleeve attitude and obvious appreciation of numerous subgenres, this album clearly represents how music has evolved, evoking the aggressive nature of '80s hardcore, the personal awareness of the '90s, and finally adopting the new method of beauty and chaos that is currently defining the '00s music scene. Off Minor is certainly a derivative of the things around them, but due to their members' appreciation and originality, they've been able to create a perfect emotional reflection of their feelings. And that is all that this album needs to succeed.