One Step Closer - All You Embrace (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

One Step Closer

All You Embrace (2024)

Run for cover records

Pennsylvania's One Step Closer has very much been one of the bands I needed to listen to more. Life gets in the way, but this act reminds me a lot of what I was into when I first started writing here. And what I wished I shared more of in the 2000s and 2010s. It helps that they're on Run For Cover Records -- a label that, no matter what, keeps churning out diverse gems from indie to pop rock to acts like this: indelible melodic hardcore. It's a pleasure to report their latest LP All You Embrace truly delivers.

Now, I'll cut straight to the chase. The musical spine of OSC is very much for those who like bands like Title Fight, Balance and Composure, Turnover, Superheaven, Basement and the ilk. However, what differentiates them is that edge (a bit of skate punk, even) that nod to acts like This is Your Life, A Wilhelm Scream, Rozwell Kid and at times, Kid Dynamite. They know how to mix in hardcore with math riffs, catchy hooks, and slow drawls that are cleverly finessed into singalong and shoutalong jams.

Off the cuff, "Color You" and "Leap Years" open with that gusto; a one-two punch that sets the tone and mood just right. Vocalist, Ryan Savitski, flows along so well. But honestly, as great as the guitar licks and thumping bass work is, personally it's the frenetic, relentless drumming of Connor McAuliffe that helps carry the album. It has that Pianos Become the Teeth, Departures and Saddest Landscape energy from the last emo-screamo wave. This accessible style is what fans of label mates Anxious, and contemporaries like Tiny Moving Parts and Dogleg could get into.

I also like how the album grows in its call-and-response nature as it progresses, even if it does feel like a tad filler in the middle. It builds on OSC's past work, and evolves -- especially lyrically. These tracks speak to losing friends, touring, the pressures of growing old, etc. which steps up what was done in the past. It's boys becoming men, respectfully speaking. 

You can sense the Basement energy even further on "Your Hazel Tree" and coincidentally, the work that Citizen's Mat Kerekes embossed on "Esruc." Make no mistake, OSC doesn't compromise its hardcore hook as well as it charts this shoegaze-y landscape. It's got powerful rhythms and bangers that Code Orange fans would adore, which isn't a surprise given Knocked Loose's Isaac Hale helped refine some of the tracks, too. It's all about mixing, matching and getting the blend right. 

Praise aside, I'd like to see them branch out a bit more. I feel like there's some diversity and untapped potential here. There are trumpets and some slight jazz interjections on songs like "Giant's Despair" which has me thinking they could even venture into post-rock territory the way Prawn did. The final track cements this notion of mine. It's boisterous, explosive and a proper climax, culminating everything the band worked for over the last couple years. This track -- "So Far From Me" is as emblematic a closer as any OSC fan could have asked for. It defines their past, present and future, which hopefully won't have too many forks in the road moving forth.