Review Summary: Progressive hardcore that touches into realms of dredgy beauty and Refusedish aggression.
Progressive hardcore has slowly been popping up all over Europe as of late. Post hardcore acts like Million Dead, The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Meet Me in St. Louis have been blending highly technical compositions with almost pop-punk type melodies. Sed Non Satiata, Daitro, and Mihai Edrisch have been taking Envy’s approach to hardcore and extending into realms of unsurpassed beauty and emotional output. Birds are Spies That Report to the Trees and Efra have been making pushes into expanding the vocabulary of Midwest emo. Basically, Europe has become the hub of forward thinking hardcore that is free of following a trend that has not been created there. The reason is unexplainable; could it be that the lack of exposure to American hardcore scenes has left them to make conclusions by themselves? In Armchairpolitician’s case this certainly seems true. Blending together a bizarre amount of tones with a variety of hardcore related influences they have basically paved out a further expansion of the modernized post-hardcore sound found on Refused’s classic “The Shape of Punk to Come”. What makes Armchairpolitician succeed where that band fell is their incorporation of highly dynamic orchestrations and a much less dependency on silly side triggers like jazz breaks and electronic interludes.
Whether it is with short blasts of Frodus like aggression (Stuck in Decades) or expansive post rock influenced waves (Embers), Armchairpolitician is able to create a lasting impression upon their listener. No member of this band is exceptionally skilled, they are obviously playing the most progressive music they can with the skill they have so where as this Kidcrash’s “Jokes” represented a epitome of technicality in emotional tainted hardcore, “Seven Segment Decoder” uses its composers prowess for knowing how to use the right melodies and riffs at the right time to create a aural journey of dizzying proportion. Initially the hour and almost twenty minute playing time of this record had me a little under impressed as I knew there had to be some filler, but as time passed I realized like The Mars Volta this band is able to have such strong moments of greatness in-between the ambient sections that they can help increase the replay value of the album. The production is crisp, the drums full, the guitars heavy and tonally pretty, the vocals distorted in their falsetto wails, the bass an underlying powerhouse. Armchairpolitician has obviously had enough experience with their music that they understand when they can step into realms of sonic improvisation and still keep their listeners attention. This is a very important skill, especially for a band like Armchairpolitician and it definitely increases their credibility as artists. Where some bands have just popped up to copy the recent trend of noise laden hardcore that The Mars Volta and At the Drive-in have somewhat patented, Armchairpolitician is clearly not an entity dependent on an already existing definition. This is a band that has chipped out their own corner of their genre and is obviously perfectly comfortable playing their.
If you are a fan of the melancholy and the overly indulgent, this album will probably rival your top picks of the year (The Pax Cecilia’s “Blessed are the Bonds” and *Shels “Sea of the Dying Dhow”.) A progressive powerhouse that blends together all the popular trends of hardcore music “Seven Segment Decoder” is yet another interesting and highly entertaining release for 2007.