Review Summary: Yinz
Ryan Yester is a man of a very mysterious aura. Out of the steel city in the west of the mythical land of Pennsylvania he fronts a yinzcore collective accurately named Shin Guard for their city's great sports history. While their first offering "Cerebral" hosted ritualistic influences such as Etienne Sin and Crazyfrog, 2020 is a grand departure, ringing in the advent of spooktacular riffs and a copious amount of panic and anxiety. Shin Guard like the Penguins and the Steelers is a name that goes hand in hand with my vision of the Steel City, a domain of brumous gloom and industrial rumination. Their 2019 effort cemented this for me.
Kicking off with the majestically violent track "Motorcade" Shin Guard comes at it with extreme aggression, enough to power up an entire steel mill. The song is simultaneously catchy and brooding, packing a punch in the album's first few seconds with some feedback elegant enough to have been composed by members of the Florentine Camerata. The album next DIVES into the crushingly beautiful "Epiphany" floating through its short 2 and a half minute duration only to disappear suddenly, rendering listeners in such pain as if they had too soon awaken from the most beautiful of reveries. 2020 is a dream come true. The next track "Soliloquy of The Hourglass" reminds us in its mournful and tear jerking verses that like the short lived symbol of the hourglass, Shinguard's latest epic too is ephemeral and will soon die out in its brief but world building 27 minute runtime. After the guest Shin Guard finishes uttering their last lines, the whole collective cries out in cathartic screams, mourning the end of an era, the end of the 2010's, the termination of their previous emo epoch, the death of spring, the demise of their youth. The interlude brilliantly transitions into the douleur of "Kennedy" a bop of the ages. While bearing some of the best composed riffs I've ever heard it still manages to be absolutely monstrous in its emotional display. One moment I found particularly tear jiggling was when bass lord and vocalist Jake decries "You lost everything and must start again." Though this song details the sad story of a famous lobotomy patient, I can't help but feel that it is a funereal aural cloak reflecting the end of the first generation of the tibia protector legacy. Next up is the bouncy shuffle bounce "2007", which I would consider to be a perfect track if I liked happy music, but unfortunately like Ghostemane, "I forgot how to smile." Following up is the whimsical hop known as "Sure". It starts off with a battlecry of abrasive blastbeats which reminds me of black metal and I like black metal. Solid tune yinz! The next track is possibly my favorite on the entire record "Spears." In all of its majesty it displays a perfectly brewed mélange of dirgeful lip smacking riffs and finger twitching sporadicness. Listening to it reminds me of a scene I've often imagined, staring at the ornately decorated ceiling of a gothic cathedral while gregorian chants reverberate as part of a festival curated by Jacob Bannon and Kermit the Frog. The final track of which is much too lengthy for me to unspool its words on this page sees Shin Guard looking into the future. In some ways it reminds me of their old sound, building on someone else's sound (blue oyster cult) while also showcasing some of their most advanced and most emotive songcraft to date. Shin Guard's future is comparative to the old steel mills of their hometown. Dropping the heaviest materials of them all... Pittsburgh steel and hardcore!