Envy - Atheist's Cornea (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Atheist's Cornea (2015)

Temporary Residence

There are some bands that create worlds, remarkable and immersive, for you to spend years in. Enjoying their art, enjoying their culture, enjoying their overall outlook on life. However, few create worlds as unique as Envy. Atheist’s Cornea returns the band to their more aggressive roots and finds them deep-seated in a noisy atmosphere that is as cerebral as it is head-banging. It's a record that goes deep, slow and pensive at times, but then quickly gears up into its natural beast, staying in this state and allowing you to bask in its chaos. Envy continue to pound out frenetic music that takes you on an emotional roller-coaster and in doing so, they roll back the years to a time when they were brash, ruthless and had you wondering where were they hiding in Japan. In terms of their discography, this is well poised to remain the best they've ever released.

Envy has tinkered with a lot of styles recently while still trying to stick to their relentless days of old. Music-wise, I've always enjoyed whatever experiments they ran with or wherever stray paths took them. Whether quiet, shoegazey or shattering with screams, I've thoroughly loved the passion they put into their work, best represented by the versatility they shot out on that Thursday split a couple years ago. This time around, it's a more direct approach and one that'll split your skull again. "Blue Moonlight" opens proceedings and just runs rampant. It sets the framework for the barrage of guitars, dynamic and oh-so-quick, as well as incessant kitwork that helps create these jarring explosions of sound. This is the first signal that they're returning to form, not that they ever wandered that far to me. Instantly, you make that deep connection. Despite not knowing a lick of Japanese, this post-hardcore/screamo vibe sticks me with pins and needles all over. There's a deep sense of catharsis in everything they do here and as original as they sound again, there are still more than a few twists to keep things interesting. But if I had to weigh things on a larger scale, it's more of the old elements at play.

"Ignorant Rain and the End of the World" is a bleak but fast-paced (dare I say, punk effort) that continues their emotional wreckage. It continues to set the tone for an album that sees vocalist, Tetsuya Fukagawa, doing it all. Singing (or trying to) with melody or screaming his heart out while fine-tuning a balance to keep the album steady, driven and full of impact. Even the spoken word bits work well with the mix of the underlying, more mellow, full-out rock style of the record. As for dialing his gut-wrenching screams back, well, these moments breath extra life into the album but more so, you relish the beauty of the guitars interplaying with melodies that do a number on your emotions. It balances their trademark sound so well. These tunes connect with all walks of life and no matter what, they'll be hard to replicate. The shoegaze vibe's very minimal but when they creep up, they solidify the record as one that punctures you and allows you to contemplate the elusive things that Envy sing about - love, contentment and purpose. Translate their music and you'll see how majestic their lyrics really are, whether the band goes loud or takes it down a notch to something more delicate.

This band needs to do the opening and closing credits of Naruto because there's something there that connects to all aspects of Envy's music. As a fanboy of both, I'm perfectly placed to make this bold statement. Why? Well, take in "Footsteps In The Distance", tempered down to really give you reasons why this band has been mentioned in the same breath as bands like Mogwai, Deafheaven and Touché Amoré. This song's melodic yet crushing and represents their brand of shimmering, volatile hard-rock that will leave you breathless. The sheer volume of their work is nothing short of intense and as their rhytms shift in and out here, as their harmonies build and crumble, you recognize a band that feels symphonic. A band that has an orchestral draw in the way they set up and arrange their music. A band whose technical proficiency is unrivaled today yet copied by many. There are so many moments of delusion, of grandeur, of things that make you feel alive again, that you couldn't ignore this record even if you tried. As is the custom with Envy, there's a level of urgency in the shrieks of their music that transcend language so while you search for a translator, I'll be over here, soaking in another Envy album that will be on replay for quite some time.