Review Summary: Only Self is a brooding and engaging experience and an emphatic slam dunk for Philadelphia hardcore.
Listeners would be hard pressed to find a band as tough as Jesus Piece. Throughout the course of their short career, they have refined their vicious approach to beatdown hardcore to a violent extreme. While the band briefly flirts with experimentation on their new record, it contains more than enough firepower suitable for mosh pits across the continent. Only Self
is a brooding and ferocious revelation of the band’s vision and a standout effort in a saturated genre.
Devastating rhythms and burly basslines dominate the record’s brief run-time. The album opens with “Lucid” and “Workhorse,” both of which are no-nonsense ragers that aim for the throat. Lead single “Curse of the Serpent” is a punchy, groovy exercise in unrestraint. “Dog No Longer” courses with sinister death metal-inspired riffs alongside violent chants of “Lay waste to your pasture/feed on your despair!” Only Self
is riddled with gritty mid-tempo masterpieces that would make even the mildest hardcore fan mosh in their living room.
Moments of experimentation are sparse, occurring mostly in the form of subtle effects and mangled transitions. Strange and noisy samples like the ones found at the beginning of “Adamant” and the transition between “Punish” and “Curse of the Serpent” help keep the album suspenseful. Centerpiece “In the Silence” is a bass-driven brooder that creeps with slow, twangy guitars only to ambush its victim later.
The album closes with sister tracks “I” and “II,” which are undeniably the band’s most experimental works yet and simultaneously the weakest point of Only Self
. Both songs succeed in creating a somber and melancholic atmosphere; subtly layering haunting chants and distant vocalizing with strings and the occasional piano. Taken out of context, they would function beautifully as interludes on a different project, but on Only Self
, they feel out of place and offer an unsatisfying and anti-climactic finish to one of the most intimidating albums of the year.
On their Southern Lord debut, Jesus Piece has crafted an album that is both gritty and mature. Only Self
is jam-packed with menacing and memorable moments that showcase the band’s growth. It offers just enough experimentation to keep things fresh and dynamic without compromising any of the heaviness their former releases possessed. Only Self
is a brooding and engrossing experience and an emphatic slam dunk for Philadelphia hardcore.