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Coalesce - Ox (Cover Artwork)

Coalesce

Coalesce: OxOx (2009)
Relapse Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Coalesce has never been a band fit for first impressions. Oft-cited as one of The Big Four masterfully blending a chaotic and influential concoction of metal and hardcore, its various offshoots seemingly didn't even bother trying to replicate the band's grinding abrasion and mathematical wizardry. I.
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Coalesce has never been a band fit for first impressions. Oft-cited as one of The Big Four masterfully blending a chaotic and influential concoction of metal and hardcore, its various offshoots seemingly didn't even bother trying to replicate the band's grinding abrasion and mathematical wizardry. Instead, former drummer James Dewees and bassists past and present Stacy Hilt and Nate Ellis chose to showcase the desperation of Midwest heartbreak and isolation in their respective projects, the Get Up Kids and the Casket Lottery. Those bands carried an emotional impact and anguished style of melody that was probably more immediate than Coalesce, who provided a sludgy swamp of rewards that could only be reaped when one sunk in knee-deep and brave enough to look for favor in a cacophonous rush of psychotic grunting and roaring and demented fretboard abuse.

It's, perhaps, a reason this review hasn't been written until about six months after the actual release of Ox, the Kansas City, MO quartet's first official studio full-length in a decade. Ox is not easy. The rage contained on 2007's Salt and Passage 7" is certainly replicated here, but in a moderately modified manner with experiments all over the place.

"The Plot Against My Love" finds frontman Sean Ingram frustratingly barking as usual, a riff that sounds like Botch's "To Our Friends in the Great White North" with more low-end, and even one moment that bears a mean, mid-paced, almost NYHC slant. There's some actual singing on "The Comedian in Question" and the beginning of "Wild Ox Moan" by Ellis, stoner melodies that are absolutely jarring considering the band's catalog; maybe that's just them getting the Led out of their systems in a more economical fashion. Ingram's bellowing snarl sounds like it's emanating from a broken mic in much of "In My Wake, For My Own," which also incorporates a bluesy chain-gang take on Gregorian monk chanting...or so it seems.

More ominous and vaguely Spaghetti-western and country western over/undertones sneak their way into the stylistic presentation of tracks like "The Purveyor of Novelty and Nonsense," "We Have Lost Our Will" and "Dead Is Dead," the last of which sounds like the band instituting their take on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." In a way, it's like Poison the Well's ambitious 2007 album, Versions; but instead of augmenting tracks with distinct genre characteristics, they provide them standing alone and augment those moments with some curious additives. (Ironically, PTW's one band whose impact on underground hardcore/metal might be drastically different if it wasn't for Coalesce's presence in the late '90s.)

Granted, Ox operates much like the animal its title indicates. It's a lumbering, stubborn beast that doesn't always work at the speed one would like it to. "Designed to Break a Man" churns a tad slowly for comfort, and might've benefited from another RPM or two, while "The Villain We Won't Deny" picks up the pace a little after :49 acoustic-plucked interlude "Where Satires Sour."

Nonetheless, this is an interesting and satisfyingly first full effort from the reunited group. Time off hasn't drained their intensity, but time forth will hopefully accelerate their mode, too.

STREAM
Wild Ox Moan
The Purveyor of Novelty and Nonsense
Questions to Root Out Fools

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
maersk (November 9, 2010)

rorschach >kiss it goodbye > deadguy > playing enemy > die 116

as far as that band tree goes

maersk (November 9, 2010)

personally id put creation is crucifixion ahead of all the bands the dude below me listed

maersk (November 9, 2010)

one of those bands that started out good and then eventually nosedived into mediocrity. their high point was "give them rope", the beginning of the dive started after "functioning on impatience" and they hit bottom with that godawful led zepplin covers album. now their just a shell of a band trying to cash in on past glory.

theproblemwithfire (December 3, 2009)

personally, as far as my actually listening habits go:

Cave In>Converge>Coalesce>DEP(minus anything after miss machine, their live shows are great too)>Botch(they'd be before DEP if I was considering DEP's newer stuff)

iamgodsongs (December 3, 2009)

i can't even consider it dillinger. it's just, i don't even know. it makes me really sad, because they were insane. miss machine was just boring and ire works had potential but was just not cohesive at all. plus i don't like the singing one bit. new dude can scream pretty well, i'll give him that but they lost me with the clean singing.

mikexdude (December 3, 2009)

converge > botch>>>>>>>>>>>>everything else, honestly. dillinger's last 2 albums are fucking unlistenable, they need to just go back to tech metal versus all the patton aping.

I really liked Miss Machine despite its sing/scream thing that usually shouldn't work, but to me, it does. I definitely do like their more spazzy hardcore metal more.

Deadguy is easily better than Kiss it Goodbye, sugar.

sugarfull (December 3, 2009)

I guess since we're doing this.

Converge>Rorschach>Kiss it Goodbye>Coalesce>Deadguy>Botch>Dillinger Escape Plan.

The new record is a keeper, altough there are some parts on it that I could do without. It's not Revolution in Just Listening, but it's got it's own thing going for it.

iamgodsongs (December 3, 2009)

converge > botch>>>>>>>>>>>>everything else, honestly. dillinger's last 2 albums are fucking unlistenable, they need to just go back to tech metal versus all the patton aping.

MN_DrNick (December 3, 2009)

Mike, I am one of those dudes that thought Jane Doe was their first. Didn't know until tonight. Weird, but still. Botch, Coalese, and Cave In.... still more important and better than Dillinger Escape Plan.

mikexdude (December 2, 2009)

Brian, you're as wrong as you are pretty.

Deadguy = Botch = Converge > Coalesce that isn't this album > DEP > this coalesce

inagreendase (December 2, 2009)

DEP > Botch > Coalesce > Converge

Fight me.

mikexdude (December 2, 2009)

Doh! I mean, "doe"

mikexdude (December 2, 2009)

Maybe not "way" before, but before. Sure, most people think Jane Doh (which was released after We Are Romans) was their defining record, they still released at least two albums of "metalcore" before those three.

Deadguy should be among this four.

mikexdude (December 2, 2009)

Mr. Nick, you're backwards because Converge was releasing music way before botch, cave in, and coalesce.

MN_DrNick (December 2, 2009)

Who is this Mr. Punkmasterskaman and what did he get backwards?

thus_spoke_sean (December 2, 2009)

My number one this year.

Tudor (December 2, 2009)

Awesome album. One of the best of the year.

half_head (December 2, 2009)

awesome record. the EP is great as well. def my favorite hardcore record of 2009

hamonrye (December 2, 2009)

review OXEP as well.

givemeamuseumandillfillit (December 2, 2009)

Yeah, Mr Punkmasterskaman got it completly backwards.

And I seem to be the only person ever who think this record is dragging and boring..

quicksandfan (December 2, 2009)

I absolutely love this album. Listened to it non stop when i bought it. The homage to spaghetti westerns found on a few of the tracks were awesome. I'm really glad Coalesce is back, now if they would just tour a little more often.

iamgodsongs (December 2, 2009)

i feel like i'm splitting hairs, but if you're saying that botch, coalesce and cave in are responsible for converge's existence, which is how i read your comment, you are mistaken, botch formed in '93, coalesce in '94, and cave-in in '95. converge started in '90 or '91, both dates have been used variously. i believe it took them a few years to put out a full length, though. doesn't matter however, they all rule. As far as dillinger, i think in their early stuff there was a definite chaotic hardcore undertone, though i'll agree that it was more straight up metallic than the other bands mentioned. sorry i'm so long winded.

MN_DrNick (December 2, 2009)

Disagree with "The Big Four". It's actually Botch, Coalesce, and Cave In. Always thought Dillinger Escape Plan more on the metal side really. And Converge came to be thanks to the bands I listed.

Anyways, this is my hardcore album of the year.

Jelone (December 2, 2009)

Still have to pick this up. Never had much Coalesce save for the Get Up Kids split, but a friend played me this a little while ago and my face was rocked clean off.

Cos (December 1, 2009)

So are all the lyrics biblically themed now?

iamgodsongs (December 1, 2009)

motodrag: i'm not trying to be judgmental, but based on your highest rated albums, i'm going to have to question the relevance of your argument dude. why does a metallic hardcore/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it band have to have have to have solos? or melody for that matter? and who made you the authority to say that you shouldn't be able to make this music without it anyway?

DrGunn (December 1, 2009)

you're tripping. this album is definitely my album of the year (not that i bought many new albums this year). coalesce is one of the very few bands to get back together and make music that is every bit as good as what they did back in their heyday. this shit can go head to head with functioning on impatience, give them rope and revolution in just listening.

if you're trying to get into the band, functioning on impatience is probably the ideal place to start.

johnnydanger (December 1, 2009)

Converge > Coalesce > Botch > DEP. Album is great, 8.5/10

motodrag (December 1, 2009)

You shouldn't be allowed to make this kind of music without insane guitar solos and at least some sense of melody.

skeetopunk01 (December 1, 2009)

This is a great album! Glad these guys finally put out a new full-length. Just gotta catch a show now. I doubt they will come to the SF Bay Area.

iamgodsongs (December 1, 2009)

i enjoy the rest of the "big 4" immensely, and really like some extremely "difficult" music (hate calling it that) but i've never been able to get into coalesce for some reason. i tried when i was like 15, but my taste has changed a lot since then, so i'm going to re-listen and see if i "get it" now. where should i start?

iamgodsongs (December 1, 2009)

i enjoy the rest of the "big 4" immensely, and really like some extremely "difficult" music (hate calling it that) but i've never been able to get into coalesce for some reason. i tried when i was like 15, but my taste has changed a lot since then, so i'm going to re-listen and see if i "get it" now. where should i start?

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