ostraca
Disaster


3.9
excellent

Review

by Mitch Worden EMERITUS
July 14th, 2023 | 40 replies


Release Date: 06/30/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Keep it unclean, fellas.

Ostraca broke screamo down to a science. The problem: skramz confined to science is formulaic, and a formula made three times over breeds stagnation. It’s the drawback of taking an inherently volatile style and attempting to place borders around it; emotional peaks, typically the place where the artist’s intent and the listener’s personal experiences converge, transform into motions that feel rehearsed, expected, and well-trodden rather than genuine discoveries. Where prior works a la enemy specifically stumbled was in their profoundly clinical structuring; two barnstormers would race out of the gate, only for an atmospheric track to promptly wipe the slate clean, then rinse-repeat-and-so-on in an uncomfortably segmented push-pull dynamic. Both halves seemed to exist in separate, clearly-defined spaces; nothing about the violent, hardcore-infused forays informed upon reserved endeavors, which in turn didn’t build off of what preceded them, nor did they set up subsequent tunes. This led to the creation of many moments that, by themselves, demonstrated brilliance, but they had little connection to their surroundings.

While Disaster seems more of the same from the Virginia crew--six meticulously paced tracks that all-too-finely fuse screamo spectacle and atmospheric cuts in a half-hour or less--there’s impressive growth to be found on the group’s fourth LP. Their scratchy, visceral brand of chaos continues to reign supreme, as well as the softer textures designed to offset it, with vast post-rock expanses of foreboding chords serving as a respite, but the true triumph lies within how the album manages to forge an actual relationship between restraint and its counterpart. Much of the record exhibits a further exploration into a metallic realm--something evident in the heavier guitars, occasional growls, and sprinklings of black metal that arrive in turbulent blast beats, shrieks and arching tremolos--and emphasizes brutality as its chief product, which gives the post-rock-ness of the release much more of a purpose in increasing and decreasing pressure. The ambience naturally feeds off of the fluctuating energy of the LP’s outbursts; when the cacophony of “Heaven is Still” reaches an apex, a gentle bass riff interjects to relax the tension, leaving room for haunting timbres to creep in from the background. The forlorn, uneasy atmosphere gradually adds levels of intensity, yet stops short of exploding, allowing the equally unsettling ambience of “Stage Whisper” to sneak into the scene. Likewise, the bombastic finale of the aforementioned song opens the floor for “Whilom” to begin construction, and the epic “Song for a Frieze” undergoes several dynamic shifts in its unpredictable journey.

In this context, there’s no longer a distance between the listener and the artist--something that the band’s newfound urgency assists in deconstructing. The constantly-shifting progression of “Heaven is Still,” ranging from its robust lead riff to the intermittent flurries of percussion, isn’t something manufactured, a by-product expected from screamo’s winding nature--it’s genuinely felt at a level beyond technical appreciation. The climax of “Whilom” is not a rehearsed jaunt through familiar lands, but a revelation; its crushing beginning, how it blossoms into an unshakable onslaught of furious blast beats, and its transition into a punishing march to the finish are all incredible to behold, akin to the stellar evolutions June Paik would execute. Its usage of repetition in particular is effective, dragging the listener through the darkened melody and unabated intensity, patiently awaiting for the perfect opportunity to release the bubbling tension. How these moments coexist with the unassuming noise that concludes “Rebuke” or the eerie strumming that announces “Stage Whisper” makes them all the more impactful, and it lets the variety present in earlier works shine without seeming forced. Transitioning from one approach to the other can still feel abrupt, coming across as though the band hasn’t quite mastered the art of balancing as much as they’d like, but rarely are such instances especially egregious.

The key component to the success of Disaster is that Ostraca allow themselves to be messy, to have sharp corners and uneven surfaces, and in doing so, they breathe entirely new life into their material. It’s authentic, whether they’re cutting loose Ampere-style on opener “Constellation” or conducting exhilarating pandemonium in the form of “Rebuke.” Rather than having compositions wrapped tightly in a bow, apparently streamlined to hit a predestined location, the band lets each song unfold, then ushers the momentum onward seamlessly. The shackles of yesteryear’s formula remain difficult to fully dismantle--previously named inspirations June Paik can certainly be felt, to say nothing of the likes of Envy and similar acts that tie in post-elements--yet Disaster is undeniably less rigid in its presentation relative to Ostraca’s catalog. Cutting through the bedlam and the waves of static is a palpable sense of catharsis that grants their output the emotional resonance it had been missing, and it helps weave together distinctive portraits of exposed insecurities, cosmic metaphors, frustration, and a litany of other sensations that are demonstrated in a gloriously unclean fashion. This is screamo minus restrictions--which, really, is exactly how it always should be.




Recent reviews by this author
Manticora MyceliumKill The Thrill Autophagie
Magnum Here Comes the RainUnprocessed ...And Everything In Between
Plini MirageEarthside Let The Truth Speak
user ratings (129)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
Emeritus
July 14th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Some good skramz in 2023 is always appreciated! Was never a big fan of these guys, but this delivered and shows them taking some important steps to fine-tuning their vision. Kudos.



Bandcamp link: https://ostraca.bandcamp.com/album/disaster



Album also available on Spotify. I am not Johnny Appleseed and know nothing of apples as a consequence.



Let me know what y'all think!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2023


60513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is this good will I remember it in the morning

MarsKid
Emeritus
July 14th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

The odds of us mind-melding on more than one alb a year is low, we've already reached the quota with Cleric and that wasn't even from this year so proceed with caution.

jmh886
July 14th 2023


2934 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Since when could you embed songs in reviews. cool feature.

MarsKid
Emeritus
July 14th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Staff can embed Soundcloud and Bandcamp links! Helps to have an easy link available for the album provided it's up on those platforms.

Taxt
July 15th 2023


1605 Comments


This rips, glad this got a review

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2023


1941 Comments


Ooooo this sounds interesting will check my friend

Demon of the Fall
July 15th 2023


33905 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Niiiiice, a review

This is really good, loving the post-metal influences

MarsKid
Emeritus
July 15th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

There's not too much emo to catch this year, would say this is comfortably at the top of the pile until proven otherwise tbh

Demon of the Fall
July 15th 2023


33905 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Jeromes Dream probably pips this for me, but I can also see myself changing my mind tbh

MarsKid
Emeritus
July 15th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

I'm not too big of a JD fan but they probably deserve a mention



Other than that, I only recall Home is Where getting some traction in emo circles. There are a few underground picks worth a check (Scenario, Lucidity) but I'm blanking on anything else.

Cormano
July 15th 2023


4130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wasn't aware you reviewed this ty ty



album is massive

MarsKid
Emeritus
July 15th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Surprise review muahahaha



And this is definitely their best, most complete album to date

Pikazilla
July 16th 2023


29797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the ultimate not quite excellent skramz band

Rawmeeth38
July 16th 2023


2690 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This has the riffs

Taxt
July 16th 2023


1605 Comments


Love the guitar tones on this, so raw and sharp

dedex
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2023


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9 | Sound Off

cool rev Mars, will jam!!!

MarsKid
Emeritus
July 17th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks bb !!

AlexKzillion
July 17th 2023


17289 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

common mars w

Demon of the Fall
July 18th 2023


33905 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Whilom is massive. Love the post-metal influences. Think I’m maybe preferring this to Jeromes Dream now. Also more my thing than the latest Loma Prieta.

I would say screamo of the year, but then I’ll end up listening to these three and nothing else in the wider genre (at my current rate of new release consumption).



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy