Review Summary: "You should see them live, they're much better live." -Young Neil
Not to get political or anything, but Jesus Piece are really fu
cking pissed off. I can’t recite a single lyric from their new record ...So Unknown
to you; frontman Aaron Heard is so primal, so raw, so throat-shredding throughout the entirety of this LP that he is both completely unintelligible and effortlessly enthralling. The Philadelphia hardcore outfit primarily see themselves as a live experience, a sonic wrecking ball meant for only one purpose; to sow utter chaos. This immediately translates from the record’s opening seconds, as Heard’s distorted gutturals forcefully rip the curtain down to unveil “In Constraints” and descend the listener into absolute bedlam faster than a Cedar Point megacoaster. Every single second that follows is clearly and efficiently designed to maximize the potential of those sought-after chaotic moments in the pit; even slower-paced meditations like the eerie “Silver Lining” feel electrically charged thanks to the sharp riffing and leads by David Updike and John Distefano, while the ever-reliable Luis Aponte shines behind the drum kit on tracks like “FTBS” and “Gates Of Horn”, gifting them with a vague groove metal feel through his calculated use of double kick and astute syncopation. ...So Unknown
is transparent about its origins as a live set by one of the most renowned live bands in its scene, and I imagine that experiencing these ten punishing tracks in person would be an unforgettable experience. However, within the context of reviewing ...So Unknown
as a record, the question arises as to whether it succeeds as an isolated album experience.
Unfortunately, there appear to be a few significant hangups that hamper the overall listening experience of Jesus Piece’s sophomore effort, namely in the realm of production. To ask for a pristine-sounding punk record is ill-advised at best, and depending on the circle you’re running in, could also be seen as an insult, so I want to be clear that that’s not what I’m doing here. The problem I’m having is more about what is currently being interpreted as a heavy
sound in today’s heavy music scene, and I don’t know how he managed to convince everyone he was in the right, but I’m pretty sure it’s Will Putney’s fault. As far as I know, he has nothing to do with this record, which was mixed by Randy LeBeouf, but his detrimental production techniques are all over this thing, namely the mistaken idea that all you need is MORE DISTORTION and you will be guaranteed to yield increased brutality. This mindset instead yields a frankly comical low end that has also been a stain on otherwise good albums like This World Is Going To Ruin You
, and it doesn’t sound heavy so much as it sounds like I’m standing next to TV static playing at maximum volume. To make matters worse, this distortion also seems to be applied to Heard’s vocals in choice moments throughout the record, making my question of “what the fu
ck is going on?” rooted more in genuine confusion than awe. The record also counterintuitively seems to lose a bit of steam towards its endpoint, with the one-two punch of “Profane” and “An Offering Into The Night” failing to make any impact on me despite their ferocity. To be fair, however, the album does recover and ends with an absolute barnburner in “The Bond”.
is a flawed record, but still a worthwhile one to check out. Underneath its misguided bells and whistles lies a grueling trench of hatred and rage, one that demonstrates Jesus Piece’s capability to pulverize their audience with a sort of backwards grace. Their reputation as one of the most entrancing live acts in hardcore today needs no reinforcement, although its translation into a physical or streamed product currently leaves a bit to be desired. Regardless, the future is bright for this band, and I believe in their ability to craft a wholly satisfying full-length album somewhere down the line.
Seriously, though. Go see them live.