2011 saw a good share of reputable hardcore and mathcore releases. Protest The Hero put out an album with technicality as prominent as ever. Architects released a breakdown-heavy, yet all-around solid record in The Here And Now. Touche Amore released a heart-wrenching record. Defeater put out one of the most raw, powerful hardcore records of the year in Empty Days & Sleepless Nights. And I, Apparatus released their debut Ebola And The Botanist. Oh wait…you’ve never heard of I, Apparatus? Though they are fairly talented and exciting to listen to, they’re not too well-known, and there are a few reasons for that.
I, Apparatus seems to fall into the middle of the two genres I mentioned above: straight-up hardcore and mathcore. Their sound is pretty harsh and scrutinizing, while also having some of the same strengths that possess hardcore music. But one little similarity in these guys’ sound is the chaos that it envelops. Being a huge fan of The Chariot, I found their overall sound to be comparably straight-up crazy (hopefully they can put on a live show as energetic as The Chariot). Reverberating guitar licks, mathcore-ish, Dillinger Escape Plan-like eccentricity, and boastful energy are all in this album. Heavy emotions effectively find a spot within the chaotic instrumentals.
But there is something about Ebola And The Botanist that I didn’t really care for. It is just too random and all over the place. I said earlier that this is pretty cool, but at times, like in “Deatheater,” erratic melodies evolve one after another, following up a smooth hardcore-esque intro that initially gives the idea that it will be a soft track. I also found that, though most of the guitar parts are pretty nice -especially the relentlessness of “Botany” and the sentimental intro to “Avarice”- the overall melodies aren’t super memorable or catchy.
However there is still enough killer material on this record to make up for the skippable filler. “Learner” is a standout song. The mix of booming guitar riffs and more progressive rock ones, and also the mess of vocals make for an overall sound that is a force to be reckoned with. I also really enjoyed “Aluminati,” where the vocals are easier to discern, the essence of emotion is pretty sentimental, and a mix of jazzier metal and mathcore-like material mesh together fairly well. My favorite element of the track, though, is how it hits you like a wrecking ball.
The one thing about I, Apparatus’ debut that makes them different than typical hardcore and mathcore groups is their vocal patterns, which sound a lot like Austin Carlile of Of Mice & Men. Vocalist Cody Hamm seems is often hard to understand, but in a good way. He makes good use of the thick lyrics, as his screams seem to blast off like a rocket in most of the songs. Though he isn’t the most unique vocalist out there, his rough, gutty screams are fairly abrading.
Overall, I, Apparatus’ Ebola And The Botanist is a pretty decent album. It’s got a lot of good melodies, screams, and guitar riffs, but at the same time, not as much stuck out to me about the band’s sound as Protest The Hero, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Defeater, who defined what their genres were cut out to be. But this is a solid release for the band, and even with some skippable material, it’s a release that I was fairly satisfied to hear.