Despite the wealth of excellent material under their belts, Old Gray have never largely impressed hardcore screamo heads or the pop punk crowd that frontman Cam Boucher’s other project, Sorority Noise, draws in droves. The New Hampshire three-piece have never quite matched the brooding chaos of “real” screamo or post-hardcore’s embattled prettiness, choosing instead to make emotional music that exists in the gaps between what’s expected of a band that screams these days. They’ll juxtapose a minute-long nervous breakdown of a track with a beautifully composed instrumental four times its length and somehow make it sound cohesive, utilizing Boucher’s endearing earnestness and lyrical grace as well as their affinity for musically pushing themselves in any direction they please.
Challenging screamo’s status quo is simply what the band does best, and on “Everything Is In Your Hands,” the first single off their upcoming record Slow Burn, they’ve continue to do so in a multitude of ways. The track immediately throws listeners into a spoken word-esque groove, with dissonant screaming taking a backseat to Boucher’s slightly melodic mumbling. It’s a little disorienting in a good way, creating a foreground-background effect that resembles the dichotomy between words and thoughts. It’s plainspoken sadness on a bed of internal agony, all carried forward by the shockingly pleasant instrumental.
As the song builds toward a crashing, chaotic conclusion, Boucher’s softer vocals give way to a mantra-like repetition of “I will haunt me too / If you want me to” screamed in time with the ever-quickening instrumental. The nervous energy and desperation are palpable here, everything that was reigned in throughout the first half of the track exploding forth all at once. Despite the obvious grimness of all this, though, a steady tremolo from the lead guitar carries the entire track upward on its shoulders to the end — extending the sense of duality from the first half of the song all the way through the last second.
If it sounds like there’s a lot happening all at once on “Everything Is In Your Hands,” that’s because there is. However, what really drives the brilliance of the track home is the way Old Gray tie everything they want to express together. If the rest of Slow Burn is manages to create this same kind of raging catharsis, it’ll undoubtedly be the band’s best effort yet.
Screamo | Flower Girl Records