Common Wounds- Common Wounds (EP Review)

March 10, 2023


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Common Wounds may be a new name, but the band’s roots stretch back to 2016 when Ian Lanspeary (Run With the Hunted) and Matt Martinez (Landmine Marathon) started playing music together under the name Dead History.  That version of the group released one EP and lasted until around 2020, and a few years later the duo has re-emerged with their new name and Corey Rial (Seas Will Rise) and Steven Campbell (War Tongue) joining the fold.  Despite the different roster and name the core approach has remained the same, as Common Wounds’ self-titled EP explores 90s post hardcore and emo through the lumbering, heavier lens of noise rock.  It’s a combination that works well, and while the band does start to fall into a bit of a familiar sound by the end, the intensity and emotional weight the material offers make the EP worth spending some time with.

Post hardcore and noise rock had plenty of overlap in the earlier days, but they remain distinctive when you tend to think of the classic acts in each genre.  The former had plenty of explosions of noise and abrasiveness in between much softer, emotional moments while the latter was often jagged and raw from beginning to end.  Common Wounds’ ability to merge these two sides works to their advantage, as they hit that dense wall of sound and lumbering tonality while also exploring some much softer melodies.  They draw you in with heaviness though, as opening song “Lament” features some metallic distortion that gives way to the type of lumbering guitar and bass riffs that immediately bring 90s noise rock to mind.  But as the song progresses melodies take over, layering more emotive and airier guitar work over the bass which continues to move forward methodically with that earth shaking rumble.  “High/Low” and “No Exit” pivot back towards the post hardcore side of the spectrum with some lighter melodies that even have a bit of an emo vibe to them as well, letting some brighter textures shine through as the heaviness subsides.  My favorite moments are on “High/Low” and “Phantom Limbs”, as this is where Common Wounds reaches that truly infectious blends of somber melodic leads and intensity, invoking a sense of nostalgia while still pushing forward towards something that sounds fresh.  There’s a consistency to the five songs that make it easy to listen to the entire EP from beginning to end without skipping around, but admittedly some moments do start to blur together over time.  Some of the noise rock elements do start to fall into a pattern, and the band does have additional room to blur the lines even further between these two genres to really draw out some unique elements.

Ian Lanspeary handles vocals throughout the band’s material, and his performance matches the rest of Common Wounds ability to really blur the lines between post hardcore and noise rock.  “Lament” is a great example of this, as early on his voice comes through as a scream/shout that has the same jagged edges of classic noise rock, but as the instrumentation pivots over to melodic leads his voice lightens as well and is drenched in raw emotion.  There’s a great balance between the emotional fragile pitches and the powerful, grittier one that proves to be quite appealing throughout the EP, and the former is best showcased on “No Exit”.  Here Lanspeary starts off with a softer singing pitch that builds to an emotional shout by the end, capturing the essence of post hardcore and emo.  Common Wounds really nails the genre overlap in this regard, and I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity the vocals had to offer.

Some moments may run together slightly, but I still really like the sound Common Wounds has created on this EP.  It feels like they’re getting down to the essence of what made post hardcore and noise rock tick back in its formative day, and the balance of emotive melodies and lumbering riffing has kept me coming back for more.  I do get the impression that the band can fuse these two sides even further and hit even higher peaks though, so with this renewed focus and new name it seems like the best is yet to come.  Common Wounds is available from Protagonist Music.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg