In theory, the experience of listening to the entirety of a band's recorded output in one sitting is a valuable one (and one that is rarely available outside of hardcore). In reality, few people actually want to sit and listen to Saetia's A Retrospective
or even Minor Threat
's Complete Discography
all at once, at least not on a regular basis. Such is the case with Shotmaker
's The Complete Discography 1993-1996
, a 43-track retrospective documenting the group's short-lived but highly influential career. Hailing from Canada, Shotmaker are often credited, along with bands like Drive Like Jehu
, with bridging the gaps between hardcore, emo and post-hardcore.
The first thing to notice about Shotmaker is their ability to create such a full and dense sound with only three members. The second is just how cohesive that sound is, particularly in the tracks recorded later in the band's career. The three instruments are so incredibly intertwined that is sometimes difficult to determine what is happening with each instrument individually. The shouty vocals (a mesh of Drive Like Jehu's Rick Froberg and Fugazi
's Guy Picciotto) always seem to to complement the music to the point that neither element of the music is of higher importance, it's a whole package that cannot be separated from any of its parts.
After consuming a fair chunk of Complete Discography
, the group's ability to craft an incredibly high volume of memorable riffs becomes quite plain. Basically the entire first disc (with a couple of exceptions) is comprised of brilliant riff after brilliant riff and the second disc isn't too much different. Whether its in brooding, quiet moments like "Controller.Controller", more complex, shifty parts like in "Table" or tracks like "Shortwave Radio" (which even sees experiments with techniques like violining) that exhibit the band rocking out as hard as possible, the band's abilities constantly impress.
When the members of so many modern hardcore bands are covered head to toe in tattoos and look as if they spend all day in the gym, it's refreshing to peruse the booklet of Complete Discography
and to see three short skinny dudes dressed in normal clothes, looking as if it's their first year out of high school. Shotmaker's music is hard-hitting and heavy, but more importantly, it's honest. The final page of Complete Discography
's booklet says "Due to DAT tapes being lost, all of this except tracks 1-10 were transferred from vinyl. This will explain some of the pops and hisses you might hear." And while this must have been a significant loss for the band, it proves to be a blessing in disguise. There's something about the crackle between tracks that makes Complete Discography
feel all the more personal. What the record lacks in quality is ultimately more than made up for in authenticity. The same authenticity is seen in the band's lyrics, which are generally short snippets that use as little as possible to convey impassioned messages.
As a complete career-spanning retrospective, Complete Discography
is obviously not perfect and while the option to experience the band's entire recorded output at once is there, it's probably not going to be something that most people can stomach. Nevertheless, Complete Discography
offers us a powerful slab of hardcore that consistently places honesty above all else. Whether experienced episodically or in longer sessions, Complete Discography
's combination of brutal vocals, masterful riffing and cohesive teamwork will always be a winning one.