Review Summary: One of the greatest avant-garde noise/post-hardcore albums you've never heard.
Post-hardcore is an eclectic genre, spanning several contrasting ideas and musical motifs. Contrary to popular belief, it has a lot more to offer than many other genres. Take any number of bands and compare them and the picture becomes clear, the majority sound contrasting to one another. From Trophy Scars to At the Drive-In to HORSE the band to Glassjaw and so on, and so forth, a distinction in sound can be determined by even the untrained ear. Racebannon's In the Grips of the Daylight
, an album from the former half of the previous decade sees the genre at its most divergent, and easily sets itself apart from other contemporary artists. I proudly advocate that the more emotionally harrowing an album, the deeper the meaning. In the Grips of the Light
is laden with recurring motifs of despondence, which is to say that its sentiments hit home, for me.
Now, I had meant that to be more or less a statement as to how different they are from other bands within the genre. An artist's genre in today's culture can be completely off-putting to someone else based around stereotypes alone, and it's a shame, because the genre can range from epic screamo -Circle Takes The Square to the delectably soother side of narrative from Trophy Scars latest release. If I had to pick a subset of their sound governing their overall sound, I would say they fit most easily into noise rock, with an aggressive edge. Somewhat of an anomaly in that they're more explicitly hardcore, whilst paying homage to noise rock (Electricity
) and other various genres.
The latter half of songs here are noise-laden and dissonant, at times. Perplexing are songs like "Clubber Lang
" and "Electricity
with their odd shifts in atmosphere. The former starts off rather typically, and seems conventional with shriek-screams and brooding aesthetic, but spontaneously shifts into a demented carnival-esque track with vocal accompaniments weaving "oh, oh, oh, la, la, la, la"
in and out. Electricity
is actually a cover of Captain Beefheart's version and the song I happened upon 8 years ago, marking my first foray into the post-hardcore realm. It almost fits an electrical motif, credited to its energy and production. This song is one of two great departures of sound on the album (the other being the final track), and is fun and upbeat. The guitars have a sharp twang sound about them, and the bass, thankfully prominent, adds melodic elements throughout.
However, the real kicker is the anything but fun and melodic-I'm Yr Egomaniac
, a contemptuous song driven by concept and passion. Despite what many will criticize for being the detractor for this band and this particular song (the vocals), lead vocalist Mike Anderson asserts himself well, conveying hate and resentment with his tone; freneticism and schizophrenia personified. The lyrics, deep and introspective can be determined and viewed from several perspectives when attempting to transcribe. "She’s spawned of the image as if she’s an important state of rock’n roll while you and I know it’s a pathetic phase set on stage, overacted to the full knowledge of the audience. They ought to rinse her of her glory so others can feel the glory too. But powers and pulls never last so I’ll try to stay moving on alongside the rest of you.
" Seemingly a stab at contemporary artists and the spiraling ignorance for which they find themselves consumed with, and the exasperation of being outspoken; needing to conform (moving on alongside the rest of you) ignorantly with it (ironic.) This sees a departure in sound throughout the album that marks the most experimental section. Mike Anderson's vocals play along through eerie synths and interesting subtle background noise, taking advantage of its atmosphere to showcase his prowess. It sounds more like a scathing statement than anything, kind of akin to Converge's You Fail Me
(song), in theme and tone. Mike Anderson sounds worried, confused, angry, curious and more all from seamless second-to-second transitions, making this the best thing Racebannon have put their name to.
In summation, Racebannon are just plain ***ing weird. There seems to be enough of everything here to please everyone, even if it's to a minimal extent. In the Grips of the Light
is convoluted and emits an assault on the senses, in a good way, for those who relate. Everything is here, from the twangy guitars and reverberating effects, to the bubbly, and sometimes brooding bass lines, to the stylistic vocals- rolling of the tongue, screams, shrieks, moans, spoken word, chaotic laughs, subdued harmonies etc. Not just a masterpiece within the genre, for me it's nostalgic (a little freaky, considering I was at such a young and tender age when first hearing this.)
Go With the Flow
Sober and Sad
I'm Yr Egomaniac