Review Summary: Craftercore is Back! But will it achieve anything?
In 2007 one of Australia’s leading hardcore acts, ‘I Killed the Prom Queen’, disbanded. As a result, lead guitarist, Jona Weinhofen, joined ‘Bleeding Through’ and now ‘Bring Me the Horizon’; whereas the bassist, rhythm guitarist and drummer continued with ‘Deez Nutz’. On the other hand Michael Crafter, the former lead singer for ‘I killed the Prom Queen went on to form the alternative hardcore band, ‘Confession’. I received my first preview of ‘Confession’ when they supported ‘Parkway Drive’ in Sydney in late 2008. They were obviously attempting to separate themselves from previous hardcore bands by combining the clichéd hardcore breakdown with a very strong, yet fresh, melodic focus. This was also clearly conveyed through their reasonably good debut EP, “Can’t Live, Can’t Breathe”. However, it has been almost a full year since that EP was released, and ‘Cancer’ has now entered the scene. So the question resides, does this album, this band, differentiate itself from the slurry of breakdowns and ‘badass’ vocals that is Australian hardcore, or does it merely conform to the stagnant market already previously laid out by ‘I Killed the Prom Queen’ and friends?
In short, it does half the job!
Breakdowns! There is nothing more musically animistic then the hardcore / metalcore breakdown. Using and ridiculing breakdowns in music reviews tends to ironically be clichéd in themselves, but this factor must be accounted for when we consider the album that ‘Confession’ has created. In the opening track, “Send a Meat Track”, we are given a dynamic sound reminiscent of their previous efforts on ‘Can’t Live, Can’t Breathe’. The verses feature heavy concentrations of ‘drop B’ open string processions, however, just before the sound becomes monotonous and tedious a melodic riff line is introduced which renews the entire riff progression. This is a commonality between most of the songs on the album and is also a signifying factor for most of the ‘post-second chorus’ breakdowns. This however, does not mean that the breakdowns are consistently interesting or even creative. It merely shows that ‘Confession’ is trying to introduce something new into the hardcore sound that has become boring in previous years. One could argue on the other hand that, by using the breakdown in the first place, they aren’t doing anything new at all; they are just revising something already done. This is also paradoxically true. By the time the album reaches the half point, a few songs after “That’s Not the Goose”, the listener catches on and realises that the new form for the hardcore breakdown, while interesting and new, has still worn out it’s welcome after a mere 8 tracks. ‘Cancer’ uses an interesting format to deliver its breakdowns, but ultimately it loses originality because they are, still, in the end just breakdowns.
If we put the breakdown issue to the side however, one will notice that the vocals and instrumentation on ‘Cancer’ are absolutely top notch. It is obvious that Crafter’s diversity as a screamer and even a singer has greatly increased since his ‘I Killed the Prom Queen' days. On the track “She’s Not What She Seems”, Crafter opens with a death styled scream and follows through with his usual mid-range scream. Even though Crafter did these things frequently in ‘I Killed the Prom Queen’ the level of clarity and tone on ‘Cancer’ has not been achieved on any of Crafter’s previous works. This brings us to his singing ability on several tracks, the most notable being “That’s Not the Goose”. The singing is reminiscent of many metalcore bands like that featured on All that remains’ ‘The Fall of Ideals’ and even ‘As I Lay Dying’s ‘An Ocean Between Us’. However, there is one issue; the singing ability does not come across as natural. Rather the listener is bludgeoned with unashamedly used voice filters and effects. This does not blend well with the raw screaming of Crafter in the previous verses of ‘That’s Not the Goose’. The clashing issues that plague Crafter’s voice, however, do not plague the clean instrumentation of his compatriots. The best example of this instrumentation, which ironically is the bands softest point, is found at the close of “Cundalini Wants His Hand Back”. The band works together very tightly to create slow yet complex melodies that overlap each other, insinuating the raw emotion of the song writer in the listener’s mind. Summing up, the vocals do clash a little, but the brilliant instrumentation from the rest of the band makes up for it.
At the beginning of this review I asked whether ‘Confession’ would be the heroic reformers of Australian hardcore, or whether they would simply join the crowd. ‘Confession’ seemed to have looked at this question and not known how to address it properly. By the very virtue that they are using hardcore as the genre by which to communicate their answer, destroys their potential scope. The structural issues (Breakdowns, Drop B open string riff progressions) that underline hardcore, even though partially addressed by ‘Cancer’, limits their creative ability because such structural issues are so heavily integrated into their genre. ‘Confession’ could potentially become the reformers of Australian hardcore, but sadly, ‘Cancer’ will not be the album to do it. In conclusion, this is a fairly good hardcore album. But it has not achieved the genre revolution that it clearly had the potential to do.
Send a Meat Truck
That’s Not the Goose
I am the Nightrider
Cundalini Wants His Hand Back
She’s Not What She Seems
Suggestion: I don't know if you can get a hold of it outside of Australia, but it would be really good to listen to the EP (Can't Live, Can't Breathe) first.