Review Summary: Innovative and frantic, Botch begin their short career and install their legacy with their groundbreaking debut album.
What can I possibly say about Botch that already hasn’t already been said? They’ve been immortalized as inventors of the mathcore genre and are still regarded as the kings of metalcore to this day, even though they broke up some years ago. That kind of legacy comes by very rarely in the music scene, but Botch really deserves it: they were heavy-hitting, innovative, and full of brilliant ideas. Their debut album, American Nervoso
, came out a decade ago in 1999, and it seems hard to believe due to it’s groundbreaking content: it still sounds just as relevant and innovative when compared to the heavy music of today.
is pure, unrestrained chaos in most regards. The complex progressions are relentless, the screeching guitar riffs chug, pummel and thrash along, while the bass anchors the noise with a deep, pulsating tone, the drums refuse to stick to a simple or consistent beat, and the devoted screams tower over everything. Botch can really lay it on thick with raw, unrestrained noise, but they always counteract the anarchy with crafty grooves and mild-mannered breaks. “John Woo” is a prime example of this: the song starts with as much noise as a demolition derby, but it eventually progresses into an easy groove with a quirky guitar squeal, weaves back and forth with a technical chugging riff, and then resolves with a simple, subdued breakdown before ending the song in chaos again. The music on American Nervoso
may largely be unrestrained hysteria, but it that doesn’t mean it can’t intelligently progress with unique parts and tasteful contrasting.
A large part of Botch’s sound comes courtesy of Dave Knudson and his variety of guitar noises. Dave utilizes every single noise that could ever come out of a distorted guitar, and every song features plenty of dissonant screeches, pinch harmonics, pick scraping, muted strumming and vibrato to go along with his constant riffing. His versatility is showcased on “Spitting Black”, where he is all over the map and constantly changing and utilizing every weapon in his arsenal. Another highlight of his fantastic playing can be found in the breakdown of “Hutton’s Great Heat Engine”, where he dives bombs his guitar into a sludgy riff. His playing is so extraordinary, yet it feels very natural within the context of the music, giving the band an extra tint of individuality and innovation.
But although American Nervoso
is a phenomenon of heavy music, I still wouldn’t call it Botch’s best work. Even though the sound found on this album is unparallel with most heavy music of today, Botch wouldn’t really fully utilize their potential and truly harness their style until their next album, the masterpiece We Are The Romans
. While their later releases had more of a clear structure and possessed clean-cut ideas, American Nervoso
stands alone in the Botch catalogue as being the wild child, and it’s only fault is that it can be a little overbearing at times. Botch would later shed some unnecessary roughness to create a more precise sound later in their career, which is why American Nervoso
is the noisiest of the bunch.
It’s sad to think that bands like Botch and debut albums like American Nervoso
only come around one in a while, though. It’s always fascinating to listen to albums that came out so long ago, and yet possess the ability to put so many modern releases to shame. American Nervoso
has that claim to fame, and it will absolutely go down, along with Botch, as an important milestone in heavy music history.