Review Summary: I.V. demonstrates exactly what Loma Prieta are capable of when at the top of their game, and manages to outshine the genre's more recent releases.
Let's get one thing clear - Loma Prieta are fu
. Hailing from California, Loma have crafted a unique brand of skramz that also utilizes elements of hardcore punk, powerviolence and even sludge, which is clear on "Trilogy 6: "Forgetting"" and album finale "Diamond Tooth". This unique sound is absolutely raw and uncompromising in its delivery, and is reminiscent of skramz heavyweights Pg. 99 and Jerome's Dream, two bands who represent the noisier, the more chaotic side of the genre. However, I.V. also sees the extreme sounds and dissonance present in the first half of the album balanced seamlessly by the beautiful melodies found towards the end of album opener Fly By Night and Biography. On this album, nothing is black and white - Loma Prieta mix magnificent harmonies with violent power chords seamlessly, resulting in a very cohesive and consistent album.
Boasting twelve tracks in twenty-four minutes, I.V. bleeds intensity and passion from every pore, making for an exhaustive listen. Halfway through album opener "Fly By Night", the band offers a quiet break, before it builds up into guitar harmonies, which end of the track on a positive note. Songs like "Torn Portrait" and "Reproductive" act as the weak links to the album, as they simply blast through different chord progressions in a cacophony of blast-beat heavy drums and dissonant guitars, resulting in two rather unmemorable songs. The "Trilogy" tracks is where the band employs their sludge and powerviolence influences. The very aptly titled "Trilogy 4: "Momentary"" lasts less than a minute, and and begins with a simple drum beat that gets faster and faster until it explodes in a Charles Bronson-esque manner. When the band flows into the breakdown towards the end of "Trilogy 6: "Forgetting"", the music swells and swells until it becomes a wall of distortion and noise, as though the music is disintegrating away before your ears. The "Trilogy" tracks make you want to punch holes in the wall and all three tracks share that mentality which is played to the band's strengths so well.
The tracks that follow this midway point are a lot more slower than anything found in the first half, offering melody and diversity over unforgiving brutality. Don't let that fool you though, "Untitled" is peaceful and calm, and is the band's first use of a clean guitar tone of the album, whilst "Uniform" is the opposite, sounding like a more abrasive Modern Life Is War B-Side from Witness. "Uselessness" ties the dissonance and the melody together in a seamless fashion, and "Biography" follows, doing the same thing in a much better fashion, and acting as a strong contender for one of the best songs of the year, employing the quiet/loud dynamics found in previous releases. "Diamond Tooth" is the album's final track, and it utilizes emptiness and repetition to create a sense of atmosphere. The song withers and dies away quietly, in a completely opposite manner as to how I.V. started.
The most striking aspect I.V. is the production. The guitars are skullcrushing, the bass is more prominent than it has been on previous releases and the drums are coma-inducing loud. With the distortion turned right up, the album's loudest points sound similar to noise punk bands like Truncheons or powerviolence acts like Vaccine and Coke Bust. The claustrophobic element is still present and everything is just a notch louder than it is on any other release the band has put out.
Loud and cathartic, I.V. demonstrates exactly what Loma Prieta are capable of when at the top of their game, outshining every release the band put out before 2012. The weaker tracks do little to disrupt the raging flow of the album, and the passion and intensity that Loma Prieta display are as clear as ever. Overall, I.V., the highly anticipated fourth album was worth the wait. Crushing, technical, beautiful and never subtle in its delivery, I.V. is an extremely emotional journey that will surely stand out as one of the genre's best in recent years.