The breakdown. Built to make guitarists bob up and down in unison and to make skinny, swoopy-haired, tattoo-laden teens thrust their limbs violently in various directions. There to induce the feeling that makes people want to punch bunnies and dislocate their shoulders for no reason. If hardcore music was sex, the breakdown would be the orgasm. It is the basic culmination of what makes a heavy song, well, heavy! Lancaster, Pennsylvania natives Ace Augustine are well aware of the chaos that a breakdown is capable of accomplishing. Just give their debut album titled The Absolute a few rotations…no, half a rotation, and you will immediately come to this same realization.
Opener “Justifiers” shows that Ace Augustine’s goal is clear: to brutally beat at your ear drums like they are Joey Jordison’s (RIP) floor tom. And to a certain extent, they are successful. Conveying a formula that sounds very much like a blend of fellow Lancaster, PA citizens, August Burns Red, and Rise Records’ own “metal” band, Miss May I, Ace Augustine base their sound around chugging guitars that simultaneously coincide with the double bass drum while lifelessly smashing the china cymbal. It is all just there to accentuate the screamed vocals of Ben Moser that come off as a conglomeration of Jon Mess of Dance Gavin Dance and Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon.
I’ll be the first to say that the consistent chug-scream-repeat formula grows somewhat tiresome as the 10-song album goes on. Though the band tends to abide by this same direction, they decide to switch it up from time to time, making things a little more melodic in the form of guitarist Tyler Chadwick’s clean vocal contribution. But this isn’t enough to set Ace Augustine apart from the plethora of emerging bands trying to achieve this same genre. Chadwick’s vocals hardly come off as refreshing, as they sound way too common among many other clean vocalists in the metal scene. Though, the band shines when harmonizing cleans with screams in songs like “Senior Year at Sky City” and “Delorean.”
At times, Ace Augustine show that they know how to execute the heavy side of music in glorious fashion. The band’s capability to build up to a flat-out vicious breakdown is just astonishing. Most noteworthy is the usage of their Christian faith in “Jonah Spoke of Innocence,” in which the brutality pauses to a robotic voice quoting the bible: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and then unleashing one of the most fiendish breakdowns I’ve heard in many moons. If they refrained from using so many less-than-spectacular breakdowns, the great ones would stand out, and Ace Augustine could quite possibly shock and awe the metal community. And The Absolute wouldn’t be absolutely forgettable (sorry, I couldn’t restrain myself.)
All in all, The Absolute isn’t a bad record. In fact, compared to most of the many talentless entities that litter our current music scene, Ace Augustine has actually contrived a quality debut release. The potential is evident, and now we just have to wait and see if they unleash every bit of it.