Julia – Julia – 4/5
Ah screamo; that beloved genre that is of course every member of Lifer's favourite, combining those notable traits of angsty teenage whining about some mundane event invariably involving some woman, sung in a nasal high pitched whine that makes you want to thump them and tell them to man up, complemented by power chords that somehow manage to delude people into thinking it's metal when it's really, really not. But sarcasm aside, emo was once a valid part of the punk genre, taking the fuel of the more political hardcore punk and giving it a more personal spin (though these days it draws far more from post-hardcore than it once did), and screamo was once no different. Most of what gets picked up and paraded around is just a distant shadow of what it once was, and dismissing this out of hand would be like dismissing metal because of that Slipknot song you heard on the radio. Quite frankly, this is none of that. This is screamo played the way it should be.
Equal parts 'Botch' and 'Big Black,' this is a band long since shrouded in obscurity; largely a live band that only took the time out of their busy touring schedule to release this solitary album, and now their lasting legacy that they ever existed at all. Keeping the punk DIY ethic truly alive, this is little more than a collection of tracks they used to tour dingy pubs and clubs with, slammed out in a recording studio in what sounds like only a couple of takes (if that); it's lo-fi origins clearly shown in the production values which only enhances the rough and ready experience, still managing to make each individual instrument sing loud and proud above the cacophony behind them; the deep raw pounding of the bass providing much of the base rhythm whilst the drums never seem to flounder for a way to mix up the proceedings, never content to just do the bare minimum.
Even the vocals which may be the most dreaded point in the line-up succeed in providing a positive emotional note; a sense of anger borne from rising frustrations only to slowly be released on the unwitting listener. And much of what makes this works is not to do with the individual components but how they all piece together in these lengthy, almost progressive compositions; simple but hard hitting lines gradually transitioning in style, intensifying and building up to a crescendo of rage, drums crashing and guitars wailing in a dissonant fit of chaotic noise. Compositionally, it's surprisingly complex even if the individual instruments never play anything remarkably technical in nature. It's just the manner it seamlessly flows from beginning to end, building you up only to beat you down again, that secures it's place as amongst the best the genre has to offer.
Highlights: Tongue Biting, Charge vs. Change