Every since their breakout 2011 sophomore album, Algorithms, Brooklyn’s Meek is Murder has been steadily building a positive reputation for themselves both within the New York music scene and extreme music scenes in general. Their dizzying mathcore sensibilities fill a hole left by Botch and other defunct greats of the genre, while their hardcore grit, speed and invention pays homage to the genre’s most furious and forward-thinking. Their sound rests at the crossroads between pure chaos and vitriolic aggression, always carefully balancing between the two. The band have gradually refined this controlled chaos through several EP and full-length releases since 2009, all of which have garnered positive accolades. Their new fourth full-length recording, Was, is yet another addition to this band’s solid discography and is sure to give metal/hardcore critics a nice heart attack.
Was follows Meek is Murder‘s 2015 Onward EP. In comparison to its predecessor, 2013’s Everything is Awesome Nothing Matters LP, Onward opted for more driving hardcore nuances while letting the chaotic mathcore stylings take more of a backseat. Was capitalizes on what Onward was trying to accomplish and delivers a 22-minute, blistering hardcore record. There are still a lot of angular guitar acrobatics to be heard on Was, but the majority of the record dials back a lot of the playfulness in favor of more visceral aggression and moodier tones.
The three-pronged attack of “Black Lung”, “Flagship” and “Hands Down” opens up the record with three blitzkrieg under 90 seconds each. Incendiary hardcore chord progressions are slung about at high speeds and are interwoven with angular, spiraling melodic leads. Muscular bass lines and hellacious drumming make up a tumultuous rhythm section, while vocalist Mike Keller’s anguished screams tie everything together. It’s at this point where the album starts to play around with structure and sound a bit more. Catchy, straightforward punk assaults are spliced with hellacious metallic stampedes on “The Same Mistakes”, and Converge-esque angular melodicism spearhead the dismal “Crows by the Bay”. Repetitive chugging mayhem comprise the album’s brooding title track, while sludgy grooves collide with moody chords and chaotic flurries on “Full Hearts, Empty Rooms”. Each of the record’s 12 tracks show the New York trio doing what they do best; being absolutely furious.
Was is definitely a solid, hard-hitting record that doesn’t pull any punches and is unyielding in its viciousness. But that being said, Meek is Murder do not really offer anything new on this record per se. While the band opt for darker moods and more seething metallic hardcore aggression on Was, it still isn’t that much of a far cry, stylistically speaking, from what the band has done on their past few releases. It’s still Meek is Murder being Meek is Murder, just with a little less mathy flair. But that aside, there’s really nothing negative to say about Was. Meek is Murder have a sound that works for them and has been used to crank out some great face-melting records in the past, and Was is one of those records. Fans of chaotic hardcore will find it to be worth their time.
Release Date: July 15, 2016
Favorite Tracks: “Black Lung”, “Flagship”, “A Prison, A Life Raft”, “Full Hearts, Empty Rooms” and “Victims and Builders”
For Fans Of: Botch, Converge, Cult Leader and Turmoil