The Pitch: Metallic "hardcore powerhouse" Axis (members of Gouge Away) returns with sophomore album Shift through Good Fight Music; their first after the departure of frontman Rafael Morales. In addition to past comparisons to Botch and Turmoil, the band reports a broader palette of influences on this album including Hydrahead, Shellac, Drive Like Jehu.
What I Like: Goddam, you know I like me some chaotic, dissonant hardcore; and when Axis is firing on all cylinders this is exactly what you can expect. "Fear and Impulse" and "Sovereign" start Shift off on a high note that rivals some my favorite mathcore and hardcore albums over the years. Dylan Downey's vocals have a simple, but highly effective, approach that results up to a commanding presence. His vicious barks are offset only by the occasional disdainful post-hardcore-flavored spoken asides that deliver a little extra venom. The layering of his snarls towards the end of "Solipsism" proves especially potent.
But without Patrick, Tyler, and Thomas, you can bet that the end result wouldn't be half as destructive. The production on this album truly brings the best out of all of these musicians; allowing already powerful, passionate performances to shine their brightest. The pounding of the drums, whether fast and frenetic or slow and tension-building as on the haunting "Faith," ring out as if we're in th same room. And the riffs? I know that we already name-dropped Botch, but that's more or less the approach you can expect. The violent eruptions of squeeling distortion on "Ravine" and irresistible bass groove opening "Consume" are just a few moments that are sure to impress.
Critiques: There are some longer, sludgier tracks on this album that feel like they stifle the flow. I'm all for pace changes, but when a record just over 30 minutes has even a moment of "drag," it makes a big difference. "Solipsism" and "Parasitic Eye" aren't bad by a longshot, but their placement and overall length screw with the early forward momentum. Alternatively, I quite like the intensity of "The Altruist" right where it's at.
The Verdict: 2017 has been a year full of great hardcore and mathcore albums, and with this new release from Axis, the trend continues. Shift is everything you look for in the genre: loud, abrasive, and above all emotionally potent.
Flight's Fav's: Fear and Impulse, Sovereign, Ravine
-Review by FlightOfIcarus
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