Review Summary: Snare!
Landing with your face on the pavement with tiny asphalt pebbles sculpting you a new face as you gracefully slide a few meters down the street is the kind of rite of passage that most skaters go through at one point or another in their life on the board. To me, it happened quite early. I was a young buck then, maybe around the age of 9 or 10, but I do remember vividly the stream of blood blurring my vision and my front teeth scattered around the sideway. After my rather painful initiation, different events unfolded in my life that kept me away from the deadly sport until I was blooming out of my teens. In an effort to fit in a different city, with different friends, at a confusing age, the board and I met again.
While I insisted briefly on grinding skills that were clearly not for me (my brain and my body disconnect when it comes to any physical activity that is not drumming or sex), and hanging around with the wrong crew (I was still on a hair metal kick back then), it was the music I came to know during my re-acquaintance with the board what had the real staying power, and one of the bands I remember most dearly is Snapcase.
Designs for Automotion
is the band's third effort and one of their most acclaimed releases, along with sophomore Progression Through Unlearning
. There are two things that made Snapcase especially easy to remember for me: Daryl Taberski's vocals and, as most of you have guessed by now, the unforgiving sound of THAT snare. Taberski's screams had a higher pitch than most of his peers in the hardcore scene at the end of the 90s, and they were one of the things that brought my attention to the band in the first place, so different from the usual macho gang choir.
What made me stay though, was Tim Redmon's infamous "tin-can" tuning on the snare. While on Progression...
this snare sound was quite extreme (and divisive), in Designs for Automotion
he managed to get a compact, aggressive sound, which only served to complement his superb drumming skills.
Snapcase's third release also contains some of the band's best material. "Target", "Bleeding Orange", "Blemish" and "Break the Static" have all become classics in their own right, while also influencing a good number of bands in the last 20 years. The album’s overall sound has less bite than their previous release, especially when comparing the opener “Target” with "Caboose", which opened Progression Through Unlearning
like a shotgun burst at point blank. Here, Snapcase show a heavier, more cerebral approach, building on their hardcore punk roots and allowing themselves some interesting bouncing beats like the one opening of "Typecast Modulator", or the maniac repetition of "Energy Dome", always with Taberski at the top of his lungs and the band chugging out blistering riffs non-stop.
At the time of writing this, Designs for Automotion
is 20 years old, and still sounds as good as it did back then. I'm not on the board anymore, as I have learned my lessons, but I can still enjoy a good slab of hardcore while couch surfing and sipping ice tea, and I hope I'm not alone in that.