Review Summary: Something borrowed, something blue, something that's kind of okay.
Listening to Hostile Architecture
is an experience unlike a typical musical escapade; Black Matter Device race through a series of influences akin to a Scooby-Doo monster rampaging around oddly-similar hallways, the audience compelled to follow in an effort to unmask the creature. If one had been engaged in the prior episode Modern Frenetics
, then it can be argued the evidence was all there from the beginning after all. While noise was certainly a cornerstone of the sonic identity previously established by the band, its presence has been morphed into something not quite as omnipresent, the cacophony supplanted behind waves of spiraling math-tinged grind riffs. These passages prevail above the metalcore direction that the Virginian collective displayed, the differences cemented by the squealing siren tones offered by EP opener “Hurricane Pornography,” technical sweeps intermixed between cascading breakdowns. Production quality is also noticeably divorced from the unrestrained bedlam unleashed earlier—that lovable, disorderly nature is tamed by a cleaner polish. When contained in a concise duration scraping by a ten-minute waterline, the grind motifs dominate any other included element, probably because no other variable is given much room to develop. That’s not to say that Black Matter Device have necessarily lost their edge during this particular transitory period, but it seems as though whatever unique property the group exemplified was forfeited, replaced instead by manufactured heaviness that sounds akin to something borrowed. Abrasive instrumentals are absent from the party and songs generally lack those ‘wow’ factors, such as that random keyboard outburst during “Presto Manifesto” or the relentless, sludge-esque tempo stoppages exhibited in “Gloom Balloons.” Power deficiencies are ultimately abound in the various entries presented.
Attempting to draw comparisons to or otherwise categorize Hostile Architecture
alongside preexisting albums is not a requirement, yet there’s no avoiding what feels like inescapable connections. The tipping point ends up arriving early in the form of “The Great Pyramid Scheme of Giza,” whose opening clean vocals and subsequent guitar assault practically exposed the plot of the entire season. Surprise, surprise! Under the hood is none other than old man Daughters. And he would have gotten away with it too, no doubt, had it not been for those meddling Frontierer and Dillinger kids—referring to the bombastic whirlwind “Honest To Goodness,” which revels in over-the-topic technicality, and the complex rhythmic motions of “Hell Is Other People.” Each moment heard within the songs cannot truly proclaim itself memorable as it was already an impactful occurrence played by a dissimilar artist. To many, however, the primary concern boils down to whether or not the brief record can hit hard and produce jam sessions, and in that regard the product is decidedly satisfying. Shifting signatures galore and the riffs bear down a sufficient crushing sensation upon the ears. Beyond that praise, which is indeed deserved to an extent, the end result is a shadow of works past—evaluations clearly craft lines to peers and the apparent departure of an originality aspect compound problems. Anyone bearing knowledge of say, Hell Songs
or Miss Machine
will be stuck yelling at the television screen, astounded by how the characters can’t seem to detect the crook despite all the clues. A rerun of the episode, perhaps reduced to popcorn-chewing shlock, can still be a good enough romp to ingest. Just don’t be shocked when the cast still can’t manage to find that goon.