Review Summary: the consummation of intensity
In a debut album most bands set out to establish themselves as a unique entity, as a creative force trying to display their traits, skills and abilities as something worth listening to. Many bands come up short, trying too hard to get their feet on the ground instead of focusing on writing music true to themselves. The true gems in music, however, are the bands that accomplish both at once by creating an album that both stands on its own as a powerful, expressive piece but also establishes the band as a force to contend with. Coalesce released Give Them Rope, She Said back in 1997, before the metalcore scene was flooded with 10 foot gauges and a superfluous number of tragically antithetically colored belts, over-the-top cheesy harmonized vocal melodies that sound like someone had their mouth taped shut and opted to instead eject sound from their nasal cavities, and “brutal” breakdowns so boring you’re sad the song didn’t just stop altogether. Why the sound captured on this intense-beyond-belief release wasn’t adhered to strictly as a doctrine for metalcore is overwhelmingly stupefying, the sort of rational digression that allows both political forces in America to consistently barrage each other with insults and think themselves superior whilst being exactly the same in character.
This kind of idiocy, this kind of mind numbing obvious problem with modern society is the kind of reason that to this day Coalesce are still releasing incredibly pissed off records (regardless of a 10 year lapse in activity), no better showcased than on their debut album. Somewhere in the archives of time, someone made the decision to switch from dissonance to harmony. At this point in time, looking at how degraded and disheartening metalcore has become, I believe (and you should too) that this person was a horrible, despicable transgressor. The proof of this hyperbole lies in Give Them Rope, She Said, 40 minutes of unbelievably agitated, vitriolic rage. Consisting of unpredictable start-stop time changes, disharmonic, dissonant playing and mind-boggling time signatures, Coalesce set out (presumably) to create some of the heaviest metal tinged hardcore that’s ever been released.
On this early release (as opposed to the sound found on Ox) Coalesce focus on a much faster paced sound, flowing from ardent passage of technical in-your-face riffing to breakdowns so original you’d think Coalesce invented the concept itself, as well as dabbling at rhythms everywhere in between. The instrumental work on this album truly sets a standard for the capacity of metalcore to sound interesting, seamlessly blending the grooviness of metal with the intensity and fervor of hardcore. The riffs often come off as having a will of their own, taking twists and turns throughout the songs, sometimes playing a galloping mid-paced riff to a face-melting grind passage to a bone-jarring breakdown all in the face of a minute. This spastic playing gives off a claustrophobic, anxiety filled atmosphere, constantly shifting and changing to the desires of the music, as though the music was a physical entity with wants and needs. The bass provides a constant, audible groove behind all the chaos and, along with the drums, provide a flawless backbone to the unpredictable forefront of the music. Vocalist Sean Ingram, interestingly enough, is the absolute standout of the band, with a sneering roar that will both confound and intrigue the listener. With a passion that sounds not at all artificial, Ingram screams his heart out every single track, never losing a beat and adding not just a vocal foundation to the album, but a dynamic fifth element to the music. Without his presence, the music would sound bare, incomplete; such is his domineering presence.
Coalesce focus on an unrelenting, indomitable aggressive performance on their debut, and come away with a record that stands on its own and defines a sound that has been imitated for years but never quite recaptured. If you need your girly melodies in your music, steer far away from this record; only destruction greets you on Give Them Rope, She Said.