The late 2000s brought the rise of deathcore and the popularity of the breakdown. With the oversaturation of the deathcore scene during that time, the genre and the breakdown became something to be scoffed at among the extreme metal purists and their popularity slowly dwindled. Only the genre’s earliest frontrunners, such as The Acacia Strain and Despised Icon, continued to thrive.
But since the rise of the modern metallic hardcore scene, the breakdown, or “beatdown” in this instance, has made its way back into the limelight. The newfound popularity of this antisocial brand of hardcore, as well as the existence of band’s who tow the line between deathcore weight and hardcore grit, means no frills aggressive music is back in style. One of the aforementioned bands who seamlessly blend deathcore groove and seething hardcore is Dallas’ I Am; a band whose “no bullshit” style of death-soaked beatdown hardcore fits right at home with the current extreme music climate.
Bass and guitars tuned to disemboweling lows, seismic drumming, gut-wrenching vocals and the almighty breakdown; these are the tools at I Am‘s disposal on their debut full-length, Life Through Torment. While only half an hour in length, Life Through Torment dishes out enough heaviness to insure maximum bloodshed despite its brief runtime.
The record starts off innocently enough with tranquil sounds of nature, but the peacefulness is soon interrupted by a lurching riff that officially kicks off the title track. The track sets the tone for the entire record with its spin-kick worthy beatdown hardcore riffs that bleed into dissonant, life-ending breakdowns that would make The Acacia Strain blush. Andrew Hileman’s guttural snarl and Ian Scott’s massive percussive presence only add to the song’s sonic weight. It’s all grime and groove here.
Then record hits its stride, steadily churning out one pummeling cut after another. “Face of Death”is a relentless barrage of thunderous, palm-muted guitar riffs, blast beats and atonal solos, while “Sacred Cries” is a menacing, metallic sprawl. “SUI”‘s maelstrom of angular groove and slamming death is sandwiched between two sinister, crawling riffs comprised of dissonant melodies, the latter of which opens up the acoustic intro of “Entomb Me”. Then there are tracks like the one-two punch “Morality Hangs” and “Worndead”, which are heart-stopping assault of galloping hardcore, chugging devastation, piercing divebombs and a whole lot of hate.
For the most part, Life Through Torment is a very straightforward record. This album is all meat and potatoes and is aggressive and heavy for the sake of being aggressive and heavy. Although I Am aren’t doing something revolutionary, they are providing one hell of a heavy good time and are doing it better than most. Obviously listeners with a disdain for breakdowns or chunky hardcore will not be into this release, but they need not apply here. But listeners who want to hear something that will get their blood flowing and demolish their speakers in the process, cannot go wrong with Life Through Torment.
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Face of Death”, “Sacred Cries”, “SUI” and “Morality Hangs”
For Fans Of: Knocked Loose, The Acacia Strain, Xibalba and Disembodied