Posts Tagged ‘At the Drive-in’
After nine years and two albums, Seattle noisecore pioneers Botch decided to quit in 2002, leaving us with this EP as a parting gift. And it is a fine gift. Although only just over 22 minutes long, “an anthology of dead ends” is full of the angular song structures, unexpected tempo changes, and just plain noise, that made them probably the most consistently exiting band of their type. Botch combines the technicality of metal and the raw ferocity of punk with complex time structures, similar stylistically to bands like Coalesce and Converge. Evil Math Rock! The devastating combination of noise, indie rock guitar, rhythmic density, and scathing vocals is about as subtle as hitting your face with a sledgehammer.
Their final EP topped up everything they stood for in 21 minutes. It showed their abilites to create, minmalistcally (‘Spaim’), how to create noise within acceptable pop boundaries (‘Japam’), create haunting ballands (‘Afghamistam’) and how to top it all off with one huge agressive jam session (‘Micaragua’). And I promise, you can listen thirty times to this record and still will be able to pick up new details.
Started with a screamo sound close to San Diego style back in 1995, Standstill themselves wouldn’t probably think that they would become, through the years, the influential and respected band they are nowadays. So what happened, why is Standstill not another average hardcore, later post- and nowadays ex-hardcore band?
Besides the fact that they´re from Spain and that you still can reach at least an exotic touch with this origin in that genre, it was in first line their ability to play hardcore music in an aggressive AND melancholic way, with no lack of power. Their debut from 1997 was good and reached attention outside Spain, but their second full length “The Ionic Spell” from 2001sent shockwaves around Europe. That record put a start to the next era of Standstill, when they started to play continuously around Europe, causing a strong influence over a number of british, french, german and belgian bands who wanted to have the same punch, attitude, sound and songs that Standstill was showing successfully wherever they played. The post-hardcore/screamo scene in Europe pulsated and Standstill were on of the leading bands. “The Ionic Spell” awarded like best spanish album of the year by Rock Sound and Mondo Sonoro and highlighted by most of the main spanish specialized magazines. It showed how the rage of the screamo roots can fit with the beauty of the instrumental landscapes, using samplers and keyboards with dexterity.
But one year later, 2002, the next album “Memories Collector” did go one step beyond with the addition of trumpets, vibraphones, upright basses and other instruments really uncommon in the “hardcore” scene. Like 4 years ago with “the shape of punk to come” from Refused hardcore-music was reinvented (or killed? to invent something new?), last time the storm came from Sweden, this time from Spain. And for me it came at the right time, once again I thought that hardcore was dead. Refused legendary last release from 1998 became something like a blueprint, hundreds of bands just copying them, hardcore music (with all its different subgenres) once again was trapped into stagnation. Standstill´s “Memories Collector” broke up that stagnation and the record title was perfect: the music collected all the tendencies and developments that took place over the last years and transformed the whole into a new sound. Hardcore (and of course Punk) has a long history of that kind of important records (we can argue if Standstill´s “Memories Collector” is one, in my eyes it is, especially for the european hardcore scene), that ended stagnation (and hardcore is full of stagnation and conservative nostalgia), aggregated and evolved new directions (and since some years I´m waiting for a new milestone in hardcore music or did I just miss it? tell me if you think so!)
With the addition of Carlos on second guitar and Damià on the saxophone Standstill added a touch of experimentation to their emotional sound, losing agressivity but not power. Surprising from the very first breaks of “Ride down the slope” until the Black Sabbath inheritance of “Memories Collector”, passing through the quiet lyricism of “Dead man picture” or the apic intensity of “Always late” or “Not the place”, this record simply broke up with anything else done before in the international post-hardcore scene, left impress also in the indie scene.
The following releases, all on highly respected spanish indepentend label BCore, led Standstill more into a quieter, smoother sound rather than the explosive output of their previous stuff. Their same titled third record from 2004 is their most mature, profound and eloquent album ever, as it is the first release they have sung in spanish. A few weeks ago they released “Viva la guerra” continuing on that way.
“Memories Collector” is until today one of the most important european hardcore records, that broke up with typical hardcore sounds and arrangements, completed a musical development that was on the rise for years in the european scene.
Some bands never get the publicity they earn. Christiansen from Louisville are a typical example. This quartet formed in 1998 released two very hard to get records with the help of a good friend, in 2000 the group – which is not a christian rock band as the name may suggest (no gods, no masters!) – published the first “real” record on Eulogy Records, a company more famous for metalcore releases, not the sound Christiansen made. “Emphasizing function over design” was a good record, but nothing earth shaking. Melodic emo-influenced post-core, but too experimental to be classified as emo or even emopop. The record didn´t get much attention, maybe cause of the “wrong” record company, but the people who recognized the band looked out for them for sure, cause you could hear that there was more to come!
Revelation Records, nobody could doubt their legendary status and high quality of releases, soon recognized the band and signed them. It seemed as if Christiansen were on their way to international success and for a few month the scene began worldwide to turn heads for them. 2002 the band released the EP “forensic brothers and sisters!” as a teaser for the forthcoming full length on Revelation Records and as to expect, it was a bastard! The 6 songs were a huge step forward compared to their last record. Fueled by load guitars, danceable bass and drum interplay the group created an explosive, chaotic and powerful sound, transporting the energy of hardcore records, but without falling prey to the limitations of this genre. The younger brothers from At the Drive-in with the creative energy of Fugazi? Yes, it seems as if the band would take the world in storm and the “stylish nihilists” full length for Revelation Records from 2003 pleased everbody, the critics and the public. A good record and to say almost nobody recognized it would be exaggerated, but compared to the quality of the music it were to less, especially in Europe. After some touring it seems the band broke up or just renamed themself to Your Highness Electric, I don´t have any informations about the reasons. I never heard one song from them, but you should listen to Christiansen. And as always, if you´re interested in more, drop me a line!