Oftentimes, the best reward is one that was never expected in the first place. Like the proverbial twenty dollars in the hypothetical pair of jeans stuffed away for God knows how long, I happened to stumble upon a gem myself. The Manchurian Incident is that diamond in the rough, buried under the deep mess of sub-par post-hardcore bands laced throughout Bandcamp. Alas, my search paid off. High octane, energetic and unrefined, The Manchurian Incident represents a plethora of influence and a melting pot of hardcore music in its most organic form.
With their latest release, Hungry Hungry Hippocampus, the band is sure to turn more heads than ever. This is due in part to the unrestrained and meticulously crafted EP opener, “#hometown.” In the first seconds, it’s made manifest that there is no polish, no special effects, nothing to distract from the blistering energy of the pulsating instrumentation and emotional screams, with attributes vaguely reminiscent to those of Anthony Green on Saosin’s Translating the Name. Gears switch quickly as the song takes a course of a hybrid between Emery and Incubus, with the versatility and adaptability of letlive. And in a nutshell, that’s why Hungry Hungry Hippocampus is a success in my book. Qualities of every delivery pay homage to bands that revolutionized genres or those that are leaving their marks in some way or form. This overload of energy seeps its way into “Howie Schwab,” which presents itself as a reincarnation of a They’re Only Chasing Safety song in structure and overall aura, being that it lacks a full frontal heavy approach in exchange for a more consistent, yet subtle aggression.
But fear not, “High Rule Temple” has the band channeling Glassjaw, so you can be sure that the blistering appeal will be of Hylian proportions (I can play that game, too). There’s much to be said off the furious rhythm that transforms over time. Continually this ability shines, as seen in “Honduras,” which begins slowly in the vein of Tool but gently shifts in the frantic and vocal-centric feeling that bands such as Lady Radiator and Envy on the Coast employ. Finally, “Higgs Boson” tops the album off with a Dance Gavin Dance Self-Titled guitar frenzy that culminates and climaxes to an outro that would be expected of acts like Every Time I Die and Underoath. Powerfully Hungry Hungry Hippocampus ends, forcibly asserting The Manchurian Incident’s place in their local scene, and in hardcore music.
It’s not perfect though. A tad rough around the edges, potentially jolting at times, and disjointed at other moments, there are things that may cause listeners to shy away. But perhaps this is where the beauty rests. Visceral, unpolished and emotionally charged, The Manchurian Incident are bound to trail and travel with hardcore legends.