Boundaries - Death Is Little More (Cover Artwork)


Death Is Little More (2024)

3DOT Recordings

Connecticut’s Boundaries have been an interesting and promising part of the metallic hardcore landscape since their inception in 2014 and their first official release in 2017. So when you think about the COVID period smack bang in the middle of that timeframe, they’ve had an unusual existence in terms of being able to grow their following in the more conventional way that newer bands typically do. What they have also been however, is pretty prolific. Considering this will be their fourth album released since 2017’s debut, it’s clear to see this is a band who don’t have trouble creating music.

Another area of distinct promise is the trajectory that the band’s records have taken thus far and the level of ambition that the band themselves have shown. Although you could easily argue it’s not the first time it’s been used as inspiration, this record has a name and thematic thread that has been lifted from Dante’s Inferno. And whereas many a time it has literally just been a reference, Boundaries lead vocalist Matt McDougal has in essence, formed the album around the horror that life, when at its worst and most oppressive, can truly invoke. Beyond staying true to a concept in itself being a positive, in the case of Death is Little More, it also colours the tone of the record. The primary ambience is one of the swirling, constantly changing hectic modern world, complete with discordant, staccato guitar work woven in amongst the punishing, stentorian savagery that characterises a good portion of the record.

But to refer back to the ambition and songwriting chops of the band for a second, the record extends some way beyond the typical remit of your typical hardcore/metalcore release. There are occasional pepperings of digitally-generated or altered beats and vocals, there are varied vocals, melodic passages, guest spots, emotive lead lines, spoken word clips, etc. But none of these feel like they’re being thrown or crowbarred in. They fit well. They always serve the song in question and (generally speaking), are totally in-keeping with the subject matter. It also helps a lot (for me, at least) that the lyrics are mostly intelligible. Not always the case with this genre, but here you find that the horror is communicated clearly; and equally by the music and lyrics.

If I were to make any overt critical comment, then it might be that the occasional ‘modern metalcore’ choruses or vocal lines that come in, do feel a bit incongruous. It’s not that they sound sappy per se, but the backdrop they’re set against is so much more violent and grim, that it does slightly pull you out of the grotesque, dark and unflinchingly malevolent world that this record lives in for 95% of the time. It’s a bit like listening to Harm’s Way and then every now and then there’s a fully sceno vocal from stage left. I like both of those things, but together? Somewhat less so. Oddly though, when Dying Wish do the same thing (albeit with a single vocalist), then I’m a sucker for it. Maybe I’m being too harsh. And to be fair, that’s near as damn it the only criticism I could summon up and I’m already talking myself out of it.

This is a really strong record. It has genuine teeth, the urgency in which it’s played is captivating and if you dig on Harm’s Way, Counterparts, Dying Wish, etc then there is a heck of a lot to enjoy here. I’d also recommend bunging it on a good set of headphones as the production is superb. There are genuinely memorable songs, moments, riffs and lyrics. The polyrhythmic sections are impressive and the sequencing works well. It’s another record in a glut of maybe a dozen from the past couple of years that capture the early 00’s metalcore sound, before any suggestion of sanitisation crept in. I know I’ll be coming back to this throughout the year. It’s heavy as balls, but also has an accessibility (more so than a lot of the extreme stuff I listen to anyway) that will allow this to serve as a head-banging, palate-cleansing hybrid. But for those of us who aren’t me (don’t say I’m solipsistic), this will tickle your heaviness funnybone, but also incorporates melodicism and depth across the record. It’s good. Go snap your neck to it.