The use of the word "objectivity" as something factual and tangible is something that has a tendency to irk me quite a bit. The very existence of that word and concept baffles me to no end since there is no such thing; it's quite simply a glaring fallacy. Subjectivity on the other hand is something very real, something real life decisions consistenly hang on. The fact that Buried Inside are from what I more or less consider my hometown (Ottawa), that they're some of the nicest chaps I've ever met and that one of their guitar players (Andrew Tweedy) is responsible for doing an amazing job on the mixing and mastering of my own band's record, are all factors that would serve to make this review lean considerably on the subjective side. So it's with quite a bit of regret and disdain that I'll assure you that I tried to make this piece as 'objective' as possible. Ouch, that hurt.
So how does Chronoclast, the band's Relapse Records debut, fare? Well, I honestly believe it to be one of the most epic, moving, and uniformly coherent 'heavy music' records in quite some time. The album is basically built as one gigantic 40-minute song, divided into 10 defined tracks, with consistently recurring themes on both the lyrical and musical fronts throughout. Lyrically, Chronoclast is a study and analysis of time as an imperial construct for the regulation of capitalist economy and of time as the primary societal control. In the hand's (or voice) of a lesser vocalist, the lyrical content, while brilliant and masterfully written, might've come off as slightly pretentious or even self-indulgent, but Nick Shaw's impassioned vocal delivery manages to give his socio-political rhetoric great heft, weight and relevance. He simply sounds genuinely fucking pissed off. There's even a logical flow to the ideas that are conveyed, each song illustrating a different facet of time's hegemony on modern culture (i.e. religion and imperialism). Ultimately, the band's message strives for a certain emancipation of conscience among individuals, for people to simply question and potentially critique this man-made paradigm, something that isn't anchored in fact, but merely taken for granted.
Thankfully, the band's music comes off just as incendiary as it's politics. Buried Inside manages to mesh both blistering and conceptually epic heaviness on Chronoclast, downplaying the agression at times for passages of brooding, uncertain calm. The sound is ultimately their own, but comparisons to a sped-up Isis or an insanely dark and violent Explosions In The Sky could be made for the sake of bland categorization. The first thing to leap out of the soundscape is Mike Godbout's absolutely spectacular and truly deft drumming, setting the stage with frenetic energy and creativity rarely seen among bands in the hardcore/metal genre. Andrew Tweedy and Matias Palacios Hardy build intricately-woven, harmonized melodies and monolithic walls of sound with their guitars, opting for texturing, coloring and amplifying the compositions over your standard rock riffing. Holding all of this together is Steve Martin's nimble bass playing. He is the main driving force behind these songs, his riffs tugging the guitars along through every structural twist and turn, every peak and valley and ultimately adding a rythmic complexity that is rarely seen in rock music, let alone hardcore. Finally, Matt Bayles' (Botch, Isis, Minus The Bear) production on this record leaves very little to be desired; everything generally sounds crisp, clear and thick, even amidst the intense chaos that the band tends to stir up at times. It might not be his best work this year (for that, check out Isis' Panopticon), but it's still more than respectable.
Honestly, I have very few gripes with this record. The lyrics are powerful, the music is devastatingly epic and the package is lovely (brilliant artwork, lyrics and litterary quotes accompanying all songs, all in a beautiful quality booklet). My one complaint lies with the lack of variety of technique used in the guitar playing; mainly it seems the band relied too much on the fast strumming of octave chords to set up their melodies. Although admittedly, the repeat use of a single technique gives Chronoclast the cohesion Buried Inside was striving for, it's something I view as a minor lacking simply because I have a musician's perspective on it (regardless, I could never write such memorable music, even given the widest breadth of skill). Chronoclast is a true achievement, a brilliantly heavy, melodic and intelligent piece that even the most jaded of indie-music snobs would appreciate (this reviewer most definitely included) and it is entirely deserving of your time. Go pick it up. Now.