In comparison to the current state of metalcore, Kiss It Goodbye seem…real. Not that I’m literally denying the existence of the bands around at the moment, but more that I’ve started to become awfully cynical towards the ostentatious feelings they spout, that are so often paraded as being openly personal and inspirational. Because no matter how sincere they sound or proclaim themselves to be, I can’t help but feel a disconnection between the subject matter and the sound, with everything so cleanly cut and neutered that it feels like a ruse.
Choke on the other hand leaves me with no doubts towards the sincerity of its message. A lot of it probably has to do with the dense and gritty atmosphere Kiss It Goodbye fester in, a suffocating wall of relentlessly pounding bass and monotonous drumming that provides the backdrop for sharp cascading riffs to layer the sound in red hot anger. Unlike many outfits Tim Singer's acerbic vocals are pushed right to the front, his blunt lyrical output forcefully taking the limelight. I wouldn’t really have this any other way as Tim excels at painting a picture of a man who really has too much *** on his mind, lamenting over how he “chokes on silence” and his frustration at not being able to say all those “words left unsaid”.
This theme of not being able to express himself is one that repeats itself throughout the short 5 track EP, as often Tim rambles incoherently in the background during slow winding movements that climax with a sudden moment of clarity, a tortured scream or a burst of indignation (“how can you go out looking like that?/YOU MAKE ME SICK”). This gives the EP an unhinged, intimidatingly vicious feel at points, especially when Tim’s lyrics change from anger to hate as he darkly screams about having “a sermon to give” on Preacher, against sharp piercing guitar squeals. In fact a sermon is a useful descriptor of Tim’s style as he rambles, mutters and screams in intervals as if he’s lecturing us all on the darker points of his psyche.
1999 was an amazing year for metalcore, so it’s such a shame that this is one of the releases that never caught on and could have so easily influenced the scene into moving in a better direction than it did. Choke was originally meant to be released on Seattle based Sub Pop records with the band planning to leave their home of New Jersey to relocate there for a fresh start, but when Singer left and the band dissolved, the EP was left to wait in limbo until Revelation Records picked it up a whole year later. What a respected label like Sub Pop could of done for this band and the face of metalcore itself we will unfortunately never know, but at least Kiss It Goodbye’s track record (and in a way respected outfits Rorschach and Deadguy who’s members comprised KIG) was left untarnished as they bowed out of the scene long before it turned into the steaming *** pile it is today.