Review Summary: Saturated. Claustrophobic. Relentless. Noisy.---Adjectives people tend to avoid in music, yet openly welcome on "I.V."
For seven years now, Loma Prieta have flown generally under the radar as their sonic basket of sludgy hardcore-punk riffs have devolved into something even darker and noisier than their previous albums. The California band’s new release, I.V.
, is a claustrophobic headache and relentless outlet of pain and anger. From the banging drums on the opener “Fly By Night” to the overwhelming static noise that closes out “Trilogy 6 ‘Forgetting’,” Loma Prieta trap you in their backlash of testosterone and abuse.
It’s hard not to recall some of the original “screamo” bands from the late 90’s early 2000’s, such as Orchid or Pg. 99---back when it was actually about aggressive painful music and not a fashion statement with black dress shirts and white belts and ties. But coming out of the west coast and signing onto Converge’s record label, Deathwish, Inc., Loma Prieta would most likely just stick to “hardcore” if any labels are going to be thrown at them. Noisy guitars on “Torn Portrait” sound like a toddler sliding up and down the neck, and “Trilogy 4 ‘Momentary’” looks to blast beats for its general overwhelming onslaught. From start to finish---in all of its short 24 minutes of glory--I.V.
carries a giant, saturated sound of distortion that’s impossible to escape.
What really stands out in this album is the lead singer’s vocals. His screams are deafening, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his lungs bleed after a live set. Anger and pain simultaneously erupt on “Trilogy 6” when he yells, “Just stay the *** away!” It’s like he eats glass for breakfast. It can’t be healthy, but for the sake of the album, it couldn’t sound any better. It’s an easy guess why music like this could turn some people away. It’s an amalgamation of chaotic noise, and some people don’t necessarily want to be yelled at for 24 minutes straight. But the reason I.V.
can be such a worthwhile experience is the same way going to a club and having your bones rattled by a DJ’s bass can be worthwhile. It’s enveloping and addictive.
Even through all of the manic walls of sound on this album, beautiful melodies erupt out of the discord. “Biography,” for example, has an interesting progression that plays in the foreground of the clamor, but it tends to feel mournful and bleak. These melodies are not victorious sounding, and Loma Prieta therefore stays away from the mundane formula of aggression plus pretty melodies simply equals interesting heavy music. Instead, these songs are purposefully blended to sound hateful and forlorn; dreary and riled.
The cold outlook of the cover art on I.V.
is reflected in the songs themselves. “Diamond Tooth,” the slow, loud closer, is belligerent with every strum of the guitar even as it fades away with a soft whirring feedback, which only signals that the band has run out of breath, not necessarily that they want it to stop.