Post-hardcore is a genre that becomes fairly blanket – after all, it encompasses everything from Fugazi to Dance Gavin Dance, Thrice to Fear Before the March of Flames, and so much more. But words matter and it’s important to remember that the style ultimately evolved out of the hardcore movement. As a result, forerunners weren’t afraid of their punk status, counter-cultural approach, and any perceived messiness with their delivery.
LACES OUT brings listeners back to the early days of post-hardcore with their scream-shouted vocals, prominent bass, frenetic melodies, and untamed energy. There’s something nostalgic here that recalls dive-bar mosh pits, shirtless skinny dudes, and SO. MUCH. SWEAT. It’s a far cry from the button-downed look of the modern iteration of the genre (which is good in its own right, certainly, but far less raw).
Of course, this alone doesn’t say much about LACES OUT specifically.
Here At The Ashram is loud, reckless, and dynamic. This seems like an interesting contradiction of sorts – an ashram is a place of spiritual heritage, and this sort of music isn’t typically seen as reverent. It’s dissonant, chaotic, dark at times.
“Kick and Scream” starts things off and wields an appropriate amount of chaos befitting its name. And in the midst of the raw delivery of punk-flavored aggression, there’s still a clear groove and even a degree of catchiness. It’s proof that LACES OUT understand their audience and never stray too far into the abstract side of things.
This is expanded further on “Chemicals”: the start feels closer to 90s alternative, but by the end it’s easy to draw vocal comparisons to La Dispute with the sort of sung-screamed approach. We get a glimpse of the more melodic side of things here. Other tracks like “Stability” show the band’s capacity for hauntingly-angular riffs. Meanwhile, “Ipkiss Please” plows ahead with full steam. There are hints of At the Drive, Slint, Crime in Stereo, and Drive Like Jehu spread out like breadcrumbs across the songs. Guitar feedback, vocal dynamics, thick bass, and rapid-fire drumming seal the deal.
By the end of the album, with closer “The Truth Tolls”, listeners will experience hints of the past mixed with a fair share of modern influences as well. The band appear to have included some timely techniques when it comes to drum arrangements and guitar lines that help bridge the gap for fans of Touché Amoré and early Pianos Become the Teeth. Here at the Ashram is a sort of abridged history of post-hardcore that isn’t afraid to throw in a bit of alternative, math-rock, and melodic hardcore for full measure.
Personally I found myself drawn to “Kick and Scream” as one of the first pillars of the record. It’s not perhaps the best example of the songs that follow, but it has an immediate hook and definitely leans toward the more accessible extreme. “Stability” is another highlight that takes a TTNG-esque intro and toys with some interesting rhythmic concepts. “Shooter” reminds me a lot of Crime in Stereo’s “Bicycles for Afghanistan” with its focus on riffs and untamed energy (and there’s even a case to be made for a Dillinger Escape Plan comparison too). Not every track lands and some of the lighter moments are spoiled a bit by weaker vocal delivery. But largely, when the band shirk restraint, this is a powerful album that definitely will find fans from several decades of punk legacy.
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