Screamo (if there even is such a thing that we can put a label on) has gotten a pretty bad rap. Aside from the plebs who assume all music with screaming, from post-hardcore to black metal, constitutes screamo, most people associate the word with bands such as Bring Me The Hairspray and Hot Topicthorne Heights, groups that seem to focus and intensify the disdain that is usually dished out to so-called emo bands. But legend holds that there was indeed a time when screamo, while not a particularly endearing word in and of itself which was never self applied, was actually a respectable genre to be associated with. And with the dubiously dubbed “emo revival” and its renewal of interest in the more sensitive side of indie rock’s golden age, it is inevitable that some of its subgenres might also be explored by a new generation. Along comes State Faults and ‘Resonate/Desperate,’ an album that incorporates the experimental yearnings and sincere intensity of bands like Pianos Become The Teeth, but squeezes those bleeding hearts just a bit harder by pushing things closer to the territory of bands like I Hate Myself and Heroin.
The sonic assault starts from the first note of opening track “Meteor,” and it never lets up until it’s all over, presenting the listener with a staggering, torturous blast of emotional destruction that can sometimes be too much too handle, but in a way that commands respect from the listener rather than leaving them exhausted. It avoids bleeding things together, as the tracks are all distinct in their jagged way, but the approach is not for a single minute soft, slow, or reflective – it’s all agonizing catharsis at its most authentic. Even when they do allow for a buildup at the start of “Disintegration,” which hints at some cross pollination with the likes of The World Is A Beautiful Place, it only serves to make the rest of the towering aural monuments that much more imposing. The melodic jam of “Amalgamation” meanwhile shows that pain can indeed be beautiful, while “Diamond Dust” provides an example of just how thought-provoking such a brutal form of expression can be.
If you want an affirmation of just what incredible heights hardcore can aspire to in 2013, look no further than its most intense iteration in the form of State Faults. When “Meteor” starts off as unrelentingly as it does, and “Wildfires” still refuses to bow, it seems like an impossible feat to keep the act going over a 40+ minute album and still be interesting and exhilarating, but ‘Resonate/Desperate’ manages to pull it off stunningly. The punishing vocals that are enough to singe the eyebrows off of even the most jaded hardcore fan aren’t just for show, either. The pain in words like “baptized in mercury, rewire my circuitry/we wish impossible things and sink into nervous energies” never falls into vapid whining, as hard as some cynics might want them too.
As the final chords of “Old Wounds” sound, one can’t help but be thankful that, at long last, someone decided to do things right again. Building off of the successes of their peers, State Faults takes things one step further, dialing up the emotional catharsis and reveling, triumphant, in their despair. If you’re looking for vindication of once-guilty pleasures filed under “screamo,” then you’re in for a treat on this album.
Recommended Tracks: Meteor, Diamond Dust, Disintegration, Amalgamation