Much can be made about the merit of chaos in music; particularly in sound and sustainability. Botch--whose dissonant and technically complex brand of hardcore lean heavily towards the mathcore spectrum--make a pressing argument for all things chaotic, and the inherent beauty of noise. What it amounts to is American Nervoso, a flawed, thirty-six minute statement of intention, and a prelude to the innovation of an entire genre.
Dave Knudson's guitar playing on this album is nothing short of inspiring. The tones he is able to achieve with his six-string are as consistent as they are varied; in the opening track alone, bent and jagged sounds screech and squeal as much as they thud and thunder, at some points even pulsating forth to encompass you within its thick, spiraling atmosphere. Tim Latona's abstract, yet concrete, percussive beats and fills acts as a staunch, skeletal frame, with Dave Verellen's barks and screams blaring from above, Brian Cook's low-pitch bass, rumbling, very capably accenting the mix from behind, and Dave Knudson's riffs and progressions coiling over, around, and through this auditory spine. More often than not, these elements converge to an identifiable center, only to explode into a cacophonous frenzy of grating noise. Any notable downfall this record succumbs to stems from these pre-established strengths.
The album is disjointed in the purest sense of the word. The uneasy, albeit convincing, buzzing and slicing of "John Woo" resolves into a subdued droning and scratching by the two-minute mark, only to erupt half a minute later in a re-realized fury. The eerie, crawling bass notes that signal the opening of "Dead For A Minute" are as much a palette cleanser as they are a warning of the ruptured pandemonium that is to follow. However, it's only when Verellen's fatigued voice repeatedly utters the words, "they fade", that a proper context is established. The machine slows to a stutter, collects itself, and then bursts into rejuvenated discord, with a subtly that truly belies the frenzied prowess this four-piece is accustomed to. This formula dominates the first half of the album, an accomplishment that is perfectly culminated during "Oma". The vocals echo with a passion and a paranoia that is mirrored perfectly by the music it accompanies, only to dissolve at the halfway mark into a beautifully demented piano interlude. The guitar's atmosphere remains, its muted sirens howling in juxtaposition to the unnerving melody. Unfortunately, instead of processing forward--a triumphant march--it becomes the soundtrack to the funeral service that halts this album's true potential.
"Thank God For The Worker Bees" commences, compellingly enough, in an industrial-tinged murmur, but instead of re-conceptualizing the record's earlier statements, it seems content with mimicking, in a less than inspired manner; a rehash of earlier frenzy. The same can be said of "Rejection Spoken Softly", which, more often than not, feels like anything but what the title suggests. Once Verellen belts out, "It won't happen again/Not for the hundredth time", you feel as if it already has.
Maybe I've resorted to nitpicking. I've wondered if my appetite for deviation could be quenched simply by a rearranged track order; what if Botch decided to recycle the piano melody in "Oma" and tack it on the tail end of "Hives" as an outro? In any case, the pros of this debut end up outweighing the cons, if only slightly. More positively, it stands as a testament to the band's later achievements, as opposed to a becoming a blemish on Botch's legacy. And, just like other notable bands that have staked some claim to the metalcore genre, precursor or otherwise--Integrity, 7 Angels 7 Plagues, to name a few--Botch's sound is their own, or at least it's executed with such an inherent level of confidence that wholeheartedly convinces me of such. American Nervoso accounts the rise of these pre-Romans, and for what it's worth, I'd say that's a pretty impressive feat, in and of itself.
Thanks a lot, HSThomas! My writing of reviews is comparable to childbirth; I assume. It's a long process and after it's all over, I don't even want to think about committing to another one for a long, long time.
I am confident with the point I asserted in the review, but I feel like, in another context, my opinion could change. For instance, "Thank God For The Worker Bees" may have resonated more with me had it been sandwhiched in between songs with prominent softer sections, or if it were in the first half. I think I just got tired every time I reached the second half of the album.
Usually once I've processed an album completely, I get rid of the tracks I didn't particularly like. I'm going to keep "American Nervoso" in its entirety, in my iTunes, for a while. One day it may click with me as a whole.
So I don't think you can recommend the album you are reviewing as a recommended album, or at least not supposed to, maybe you made a mistake and was going to put "We are the Romans" there instead?"
Review is ridiculously good, if this is the sort of quality that we need to expect whenever you write a review, you should definitely take all the time you need between them, as it's definitely worth it
I actually never checked out Botch, didn't think it was my thing to be honest, will make an effort soon enough though.
Hahahaha, good eye, Darth! Well I did that in my first review as well. It's my way of saying that I don't particularly know which albums to recommend you, but my review is a statement that, "I think you should check out this album".
Writing a review is definitely a part of my recovery, Darth. I'll make sure not to take too long to get back to reviewing, but I definitely won't rush it. I want to make sure that I consistently write with quality.
Get to this record when you feel like a little bit of ruckus.