Review Summary: Post-everything
Joliette's Facebook page lists the band's genre as "post-everything." I've been trying to decide whether that means that their music contains elements of post-rock, post-metal, post-punk, and post-hardcore, or whether that means it's post-music in general. Maybe it has a post-apocalyptic sentiment to it. But with Principia
(lit. "it begins"), I understand the band's desire to tag themselves as another genre; it's clear that Joliette doesn't fit a mold.
I was taken by surprise the first time I listened to "Quiral." The previous song had been a cool post-hardcore cut similar to their previous songs, but didn't particularly stand out. I expected the rest of the album to continue as such. Halfway through "Quiral," the band completely alters the song's frantic pace to a distant post-rock groove. As singer Fernando Obregón adds his painfully emotional screams, it becomes clear that Joliette is not aiming to make accessible music or follow a formula. While such a statement may seem redundant, the lengths at which the band goes to prove it make for a valid case.
The band continues to evolve its sound as the album progresses. The catchy choruses of "Czirros" and "Califonria Yisus" reflect a noticeable influence from post-hardcore contemporaries like Circa Survive and Glassjaw. Both would be worthy singles, but neither stands out on the album as much as the song between them, "Qúmulos." If there's any single one justification for Joliette to link themselves to post-rock, here it is. The dark ambience that the band summons for the first 3 minutes is quite impressive, featuring bassist Gastón Prado pushing along the soothing melody.
Perhaps the strongest element of Principia
is Gabriel Mendoza's drumming. Between the varying time signatures and dynamics, his playing is oddly precise. He certainly contributes to album's overall feel of unpredictability, especially in "Norte y Bravo" and "Todos Odian." Also worth a specific mention is Fernando Obregón's vocal work. There's something unique about a vocalist that can scream and be understood clearly (the excellent production quality deserves some recognition for this). Even with my poor understanding of Spanish, I can understand more of the lyrics here than the average metalcore album.
What really defines Joliette's efforts with this release is defiance. With the abundance of music in the world today, it's tempting for bands to want to produce more accessible music and focus on advertising. In this case, accessibility and advertising are an afterthought. In Principia
, the band leaves behind genre boundaries in search of something interesting. And somewhere in the dissonant, complex rhythms, they find it.