Frontierer
Unloved


3.5
great

Review

by Wayfarer1991 USER (9 Reviews)
July 27th, 2018 | 223 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Unsurprisingly wild. And yet, somewhat unsurprising.

Frontierer have quickly become the torchbearer for a new wave of mathcore, and for good reason. The writing is sharp both intellectually and viscerally. Relentless stuff. Cutting edge, even.

“Unloved”, the band’s sophomore full length, is indeed unsurprisingly wild but, if I may, it is also somewhat unsurprising. If you’ve already heard their debut EP “The Collapse” or their debut full length “Orange Mathematics”, you’ve pretty much gotten the bulk of the story. How could this be, you ask" This record is packed to the gills with sound and fury. Has nothing changed"

Alright, yes, this album does tighten up a number of motifs from previous outings. You’ve got more intelligent uses of electronic elements, such as the occasional well-placed jungle-inspired electronic drum track, and heaps of whirring high-end guitar sounds so eccentric that nobody can accuse the band of taking no risks whatsoever. Still, to my ear, Frontierer have somehow already managed to stagnate in more ways than one.

First, there is a stagnation of ambition: being as heavy as possible at all times, and being as absurdly technical as possible in doing so. I’m all about it, in spirit; more good mathcore is more good mathcore. And, at any rate, innovations in ambition do not always entail improvements in execution. In practice, though, there’s a problem. The problem is, indeed, their second source of stagnation: Frontierer’s music continues to leave no room for anything except its own suffocating force. For the sheer battery of sounds “Unloved” presents you with, the identity of any given track cannot be picked out by means of them. Not a single microorganism could survive inside these guitars. The air is too hot. The tones bleed into each other to such a degree that every nook and cranny drips crimson. My biggest hope heading into “Unloved” was that this issue would be addressed, seeing as it is a holdover from “Orange Mathematics”: I wanted to hear and see the precision, to peer behind the corners and into the light, beyond where the ubiquitous snare drum pummels and chip away at the skin, beyond where the low chords absorb threaten to destroy every subtlety. I wanted some variance in flavour, not necessarily in style. I know these guys aren’t just mashing chords into oblivion. They’re writers. Somehow, though, it manages to rush past you all the same.

Let me be clear. I do not think this diagnosis calls for an injection of ambient interludes and melodic guitarwork into an otherwise uncompromising metal sound. I’ve never demanded this from music’s heaviest bands and I’m sure as hell not going to start now. I’ll even admit that I might exaggerate the issues somewhat. Pay close attention and you can hear the intelligence well enough; look closely and you can see some bacteria thriving on the surface of the guitars after all. No one should really care if Frontierier’s canon is not an exercise in sonic minutiae. nor do I think that the band ought to emphasize songwriting in classic ‘compositional’ terms. My longstanding love for mathcore of all stripes forces me to concede these points.

So, yes, this band is awesome in some obvious senses. They’ve got all the exactitude, all the madness, and all the badassery that you ought to want. But, for all this, sustained commentary about their awesomeness is difficult to provide. The mesh of the record is too tightly pulled to transcend the paradigm set by Frontierer’s earlier work. When you’ve heard one song, you’ve heard most of them. At fourteen tracks, some veering past the five minute mark, despite subtle improvements. It’s all just a bit of a slog. A touch more tonal separation would do wonders for the listening experience. A lengthy record would feel shorter. Or, if not that, it would make it feel longer for the right reasons. One standout track, “Bombgnasher”, does some of the work in this regard; “Heartless 101” is also a pretty interesting exercise in anxious, glitch-driven anticipation.

I won’t belabor the points. I only criticize because what's praiseworthy needs no further comment.

No Frontierer review is complete, however, without reminding the reader that Chad Kapper is still a monster on the microphone. He’s not exactly a master of vocal variation either, and I am beginning to think that he is partly responsible for the monotony that stands to overwhelm "Unloved", but nobody can accuse him of lacking the passion, sound, and intensity. Few others could keep up, and even fewer others could sound so consistently brutal in doing so. If you want further evidence, do yourselves a favour and go listen to “A Thousand Miles of Rope” by his earlier project When Knives Go Skyward. It is, I contend, one of the most underrated (because unknown) metal records of the century.

Oh, and really, please do go and enjoy this record too. It’s scathing, it’s big, and it’s probably exactly what you’d expect from Orange Mathematics Vol. II.

You can stream “Unloved” here:

https://frontierer.bandcamp.com/album/unloved



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user ratings (106)
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3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Shuyin
July 27th 2018


13273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Welp, you placed this under the wrong album :D

Digging: Frontierer - Unloved

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
July 27th 2018


712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Really clean and well-written review, I think the writing's sharpness is what the production could have aspired to

Wayfarer1991
July 27th 2018


29 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Shuyin: you're right, I did initially. Should be corrected by now.



@Clavier: many thanks!

TooManyFriends
July 27th 2018


2882 Comments


great review that i mostly agree with. this band is a rush pretty much unlike any other heavy music out there right now but it's SO exhausting

i think this is generally more dynamic than orange tho

calmrose
July 27th 2018


3521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"i think this is generally more dynamic than orange tho" [2]



album rules but needs to be cut down by 10-15 minutes, drags a bit at the end

Digging: Every Time I Die - Low Teens

TooManyFriends
July 27th 2018


2882 Comments


honestly if this were 30 minutes or even like 25 it'd be up there with vein, the armed and greyhaven for metal releases this year imo

Darius
July 27th 2018


17097 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh god the question mark bug still isn't fixed

SteakByrnes
July 27th 2018


12675 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Heartless 101 and Unloved & Oxidized were my favorites, but overall this falls short of OM for me. Once again the album is too long lol

Digging: ERRA - Neon

AdolfChrist
July 27th 2018


16939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the material seems stronger on here, but Orange Mathematics was already overlong and this one is 8 minutes longer. i might have 4.5'd both of them if they were less bloated.

Digging: Moribund - Oracular Eyes

goblinilbog
July 27th 2018


394 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

First 5 tracks hit so hard omg

trilogique21
July 28th 2018


1911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bumps in the whip

Digging: Anachronism - Orogeny

Ashtiel
July 28th 2018


101 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"heartless 101" and "oxidized & unloved", goddamn.

goblinilbog
July 28th 2018


394 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Those are probably my top 2 on the album

AdolfChrist
July 28th 2018


16939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love the melodic edge those two have.

Prancer
July 28th 2018


821 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album rules but needs to be cut down by 10-15 minutes, drags a bit at the end [2]



that's my main problem with frontierer. when everything is at the same degree of heaviness for the entirety of an hour, it slowly loses its impact as the album goes on. the added experimentation is a welcome improvement over orange math, but I'd like if the bulk of the songs were either cut or changed up to not all sound like the same riff (this is really only a problem during the last few songs).

jesterhead92
July 28th 2018


4930 Comments


If this is mostly the same as Orange Mathematics, I’ll probably be bored by it

Tchitcherine
July 28th 2018


49 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was so drunk last night.. Came home at 4 AM knowing that the album was released free on their bandcamp a few hours earlier and accidentally ordered and payed the cd instead of dl it..



The album is good, better than Orange Mathematics but not as good as the Sectioned album

Wayfarer1991
July 28th 2018


29 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I knew writing this review would get me my first neg.

Shuyin
July 28th 2018


13273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

That sucks, I don't agree with it but it's still well written so have a pos



Also, album is beast. Got this on repeat yesterday, gonna jam some more. Heartless all day

TooManyFriends
July 28th 2018


2882 Comments


all the same dude 100%



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