Mapmaker - Critical Path (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Critical Path (2013)

Salinas Records/ One Percent P

After a listen to Critical Path, it’s hard not to compare Mapmaker to Chicago’s band of the moment, Typesetter. Both bands go for a similar sound: heavy, emotional punk--- not quite orgcore, not quite post-hardcore, but somewhere in between. Mapmaker’s debut LP shows a capable, energetic band falling just short of perfection. Though it’s not nearly a top album of its year, it’s certainly an engaging introduction and a record that’s worth coming back to.

The music is relentless and tight, with plenty of intricate lead lines and heavy-hitting drums. These are the type of tunes that feel right at home at a packed basement show. The real win-or-lose factor lies in the vocals, always sung at top-of-your-lungs volume and recorded with that distorted effect heard on Japandroids records. The presentation is reminiscent of early Crime in Stereo; the vocals are not quite screamed, but not really sung either. It gives the songs a raw emotion, but also causes some of the weaker songs to bleed together. When the band hits it right, the songs are huge, energetic, and catchy.

A standout track is “Begs the Question”, where Mapmaker slows down for a heavy and melodic song with only one full line of lyrics throughout its entirety. Another is “Forgetting What It’s Like”, one of the album’s less dour sounding songs. It succeeds in its more memorable chorus and easier to follow melodies. Some of the weaker songs (“Stretched Thin” and “Caregiver”) become a little indistinguishable, but they never lose the album’s momentum and are better with multiple listens.

If you’re like me and you’re a fan of everything from hardcore to pop punk, Critical Path will fall right into that sweet subsection of a million disparate genres. This band has the energy and brute emotive force of heavier music, while maintaining enough melody for the occasional sing-along. A brief online search reveals that Mapmaker’s been pretty inactive lately, and that’s a shame. This album, though not without its faults, shows plenty of promise for a killer follow-up. I’d be willing to bet the band could get the formula just right with another go.