Review Summary: Listen up.
You haven’t heard this before. You may have heard sprawling soundscapes carefully executed. You may have even had the pleasure of hearing a wave, no, a tsunami of furious guitar envelope songs until all that’s left is furious riffs of gargantuan noise. Calculated and technical screamo has been done before. Maths aren’t the first band to provide listeners with caustic riffs and shrill screams that will make your hair stand on end until the next breath of fresh air, in relaxing instrumental form, grants you relaxation. Nor is this probably the first time you’ve heard hardcore that you find yourself hopelessly lost in, with enough dips and dives to leave you disoriented and dizzy. But let’s get one thing straight here, none of those other bands were Maths.
Following a split with fellow English screamo outfit, Throats, Maths gathered enough praise to garner a “who’s who” of band’s on the rise by a feature in NME. The natural stage of progression would be for Maths to start touring more regularly, reap more publicity, and basically move up in the business, right? Wrong, Maths drop their label in favor of honing their sound and recording a DIY record it themselves. The result is an enticing, and quite stunning output, Descent
would be impossible to encapsulate by simply describing the 12 songs, as the intensity of this experience spans much farther than the confines of its half an hour play time. It leaves you with a feeling in your stomach that can be best described between the words nauseating and staggering. Please excuse the superlatives, but Descent
calls for them. From “Belief in Sorrow” all the way to “Belief In Hope,” Descent
encompasses a full spectrum. The harrowing swells that begin “Belief in Sorrow” leave a distinct sense of anticipation that doesn’t disappoint when it materializes into piercing screams soon afterward. This gives way to a blatant disregard for tranquility and erupts in an explosion of technical riffs. It’s these and the chaotic percussion that compliment the screams, which are best described as adequate. While the vocals certainly add to the intensity and ferocity, I feel like I’ve heard them before in bands of similar caliber. Nevertheless, it’s hard to critique the sole qualities on Descent
, as it’s the cumulative experience that overcomes these tiny flaws in an astonishing manner. Every song seems to have just enough power to stand out on its own from the rest of Descent
, whether it’s because of a particular melody (the catchiness of “From Her Journals”), a moment of tranquility (the post-rock diamond in the rough, “... And Left to Die”), or even the all-out eruption of gushing intensity (penultimate track, “Branches”).
Taken as a whole, though, Descent
manages to connect its 12 parts beautifully, they intertwine just like the roots on the spectacular cover. The technicality is definitely a strong point for Maths, but there’s something there that separates this from other technical works. Descent
encompasses a sheer factor of extremes. It has the ability to be incredibly intense at times while managing to be incredibly tranquil at others and still progress fluidly and naturally entirely throughout. It’s an uncommon quality, and makes for a very distinct listening experience.
is uncompromising and demanding, even in its short time span and relatively short track length. Nevertheless, this is a lasting and valuable experience. Chalk it up to sheer epic-ness perhaps, but this record takes methods and qualities that have been tried, used, and abused, and makes them sound fresh and dynamic. While the qualities that their music is comprised of aren’t inherently unique or specialized, they do a damn good job of owning those qualities, perfecting them Maths have cemented themselves firmly in their place in the screamo stratosphere, and if Descent
is any indication, their raw and visceral aesthetic is going to be a force to reckon with in the years to come. Until then, though, Descent
should surely be blasting from speakers all the way from their homeland of Britain to over here in the States.