The fact that iwrestledabearonce has moved on past the replacement of arguably the centerpiece of their sound is a testament of their will to still be a band. Now, Courtney LaPlante may have some big shoes to fill as a vocalist, but the band itself has hefty expectations to live up to – especially when things like diversity are touted as prime aspects in regards to their third LP, Late for Nothing.
If your need for spastic metalcore laced with grindcore rips and the occasional breakdown has been a bit of a void, “Thunder Chunky” is a good enough filler of said missing piece. As far as bringing together the best parts of the band, the electronic wisps, pummeling percussion and driving melodies are all here. For the most part, the track works like a clock on the musical end, shifting from manic to restrained based on the vocal end of things. In particular, the off-kilter moments shine brighter than the chorus in my opinion, harnessing an energy that this band has been tops at for quite some time.
“Thunder Chunky” serves as both LaPlante’s recorded coming out party – following her role as the band’s touring vocalist for some time – and as IWABO’s chance to reel their fans back in after a hit-and-miss experience on their last LP, Ruining It for Everybody. If the plan was for LaPlante to try and slightly mimic Krysta Cameron’s vocals and perhaps tweak them to her own range, well, then they’re pretty much spot on. The screaming end of things is about as impressive as it could be, while her singing does leave a bit to be desired in terms of power and filling the space it is given on such a musically drawn-in chorus. The combination of the two in particular just doesn’t quite meld the best here – though it’s tough to really pinpoint the bigger downer in the mix.
That being said, “Thunder Chunky” is surprisingly familiar with its razor-sharp technicality at times, but a bit faltering when that element is absent from the equation. While the risk-reward factor for this release is sure to be pretty substantial, this song in particular just doesn’t have what it takes to carry itself with the same amount of energy and confidence from front to back. Hopefully this is not a precursor of what is to come on Late for Nothing.