Review Summary: a touching tale of modern america.
Louisville's music scene has always been seen as defining a more sophisticated version of aggression. Bands from the area tend to be associated with "math rock", a sound that groups like Rodan and Slint created in the early '90s. In the current music scene in Louisville applying this generic influence to a heavy base of post-hardcore seems to be the new style. Pusher, Breather Resist, these bands all represent an extremely noisy complex brand of hardcore that in today's climate is strikingly original. In turn the Louisville sound has provided the scene with a national following. Young Widows is perhaps the most esteemed collective in Louisville these days featuring the entire instrumental bulk of Breather Resist with guitarist Evan Patterson taking up vocal duties. Young Widows originally sounded like yet another Jesus Lizard clone on their debut 'Settle Down City', but with 'Old Wounds' they have crafted something between the stolid side of Fugazi and repetitive style of groups like the Melvins and Big Black.
'Old Wounds' begins with the pulsating bass tone of Nick Theineman. 'Took a Turn' is the opener and definitely one of the highlights with its perfectly composed dynamics. Patterson's guitar tone shows itself half way through the track in pure fabricated noise that shifts in and out of the music creating bursts of industrial sounding melody. 'Old Skin' follows showing the band hasn't lost any of their aggression from the Breather Resist days. Hammer ons and a relentlessly heavy beat from Jeremy McMonigle make the track an excellent transition from the more subdued intro. Speaking of the sound of this record Kurt Ballou and the band took a different approach to recording it as they recorded all of the songs both live and at Godcity Studios. I don't know how much this technique was used in terms of layering the record, but the production on this record is probably the best Ballou has done since 'The Moon is a Dead World'. Every tone on this record is absolutely pristine. 'The Guitar' which is built off simply chord strumming and Patterson's reminiscence on his instrument is accented by brilliant overlaying melodies that sound just as lush and distant as they would on a Ride album.
‘Old Wounds’ is strictly ‘90s influenced it seems. The ideas here are all from the last decade, but something feels different. Young Widows aren’t simply saying silence is a dangerous sound like those before them. ‘Old Wounds’ has crafted something desolate and fractured out of the past. The record sounds completely of this era and with its distant sound yet dark imagery crafts a perfect record for a nation and area that is suffering economic turmoil. In turn it should provide very little shock that the stories on this record seem like an update on Big Black’s ‘Songs About ***ing’ which came out during another Republican spawned economic crisis.
In terms of criticisms there are little. 'Old Wounds' represents a band feeling comfortable in their own skin and stretching out their ambitions. In return they've crafted an excellent sounding and composed post-hardcore record that has clearly been getting a deserved amount of acclaim. Perhaps 'Old Wounds' is not Young Widows' 'Liar', but as they continue to stretch their limbs into areas that aren't Jesus Lizard influenced their sound and persona swell. Suppose that should've been expected though since the band is from Louisville.