Metalcore is an odd genre. The label of 'metalcore' was originally given to bands that played a blend of metal and hardcore punk, as a logically minded person might expect. In more recent times however it seems bands like Trivium
and Bullet For My Valentine
are being labelled as metalcore for reasons as arbitrary as use of breakdowns. The real reason for bands like this being afforded the label of metalcore seems to be elitism, die hard metal fans don't want to be associated with what they see as emo bull***.
Oddly enough, die hard fans of metalcore are now reacting in the same manner to these bands. These more modern 'metalcore' bands are differentiated from 'old school' or 'true' metalcore bands, again and perhaps ironically due to elitism. While this may or may not be relevant to the review, the point is Curl Up And Die
are an 'old school' metalcore band.
Unfortunately We're Not Robots
kicks off with four tracks that run into each other, collectively clocking in at just over 20 seconds. These four tracks, the subtly named "We"
, "Are" "All"
briefly but perfectly encapsulate what the listener can expect from the album. Sometimes crushing, sometimes dissonant guitar work. A strong throaty scream from a man who sounds like his tongue is paralysed. Admirable drumming that is restrained when appropriate. Bass that is kind of buried due to the intesity of the majority of the record, but that fleshes out the sound nicely.
Following this intro, the album really kicks off. The song structures are as unpredictable and chaotic as one would expect from the genre, for instance the twenty-four second "100 M.P.H. Vomit Dedicated To Jon"
ends abruptly with a very short breakdown. The next song, "On The Run From Johnny Law Ain't No Trip To Cleveland"
features a very improbable melodic riff but these kind of hectic changes are executed with finesse and never feel forced.
It comes as a surprise then, that the song with the most standard song structure is the centerpiece and probably the best song on the album. "You'd Be Cuter If I Shot You In The Face"
is centred around a single riff. An utterly crushing, spectacular riff. The song is basically a series of superbly judged build-ups all culminating in this riff. Even Mike Minnick's screams, which up until this song usually take precedence, are almost drowned out by the sheer ferocity of the riff, but his cascading sorrowful cries only add to the overpowering heaviness of this riff.
Unfortunately We're Not Robots
also has some very surreal moments. At the end of "Make Like A Computer And Get With The Program"
there is a strange loop of feedback effects which repeats for a minute or so, while a strange computer-like voice murmurs in the background. The album closer, "Rich Hall (Runner Up In A Carson Daly Lookalike Contest)"
, has a chaotic structure in line with rest of the album until about two and a half minutes in, when it concludes in a very unlikely and relatively sedated piano-led outro, something that would not be out of place as background music in a lift. The piano line slowly distorts as it fades out, leaving the listener with the jarring but oddly appropriate feeling that the album was just a joke.
As mentioned at the start of the review, this is an 'old school' metalcore album. Don't be put off by the bad band name or the baffling song titles, it is by no means a classic within the genre, but if you're a fan of metalcore this is an excellent album for you.