Alright, I didn't want to take up any weekday slots for the little guys, so it's time for a special weekend edition review. Slipping in another major label act here, but like with Vattnet Viskar, it's for good cause. Ask the average person for a mathcore band and 9 times out of 10 it will be Dillinger Escape Plan. Alternatively, I can't think of a single time iwresteledabearonce came up in regular conversation since I was first introduced to them in college. I gave it a listen, but it didn't really stick. Fast forward about a decade and I see the video for “Gift of Death” all over social media. This time, I was hooked.
The guitar...These riffs are bursts of unyielding alien rage-speak. Think Calculating Infinity meets Psyopus. The hammer-ons and tapping on "Man of Virtue" and purposefully over-the-top "Killed to Death" barely even sound like guitar half the time. Between the sliding, bashing, and noodling; this is more guitar-assaulting than guitar-playing. "Wade in the Water" also has some computery digital effects that reminded me of Genghis Tron (speaking of which, you should probably listen to Board Up the House right after this one).
Now sure, all of this mind-distorting, technical riffing is all well and good, but it's for nothing without a strong foundation of songwriting. Fortuitously like Dillinger Escape Plan, iwrestledabearonce temper the madness with more traditional head-bangers. Take the excellent bobbing groove that recurs throughout "Curse the Spot" or the djenty Meshuggah riffs in "Doomed to Fail (Pt. 1)." Some of the more melodic hooks and soloing are reminiscent of After the Burial. All the while the drums pound the kit into the dirt like an evil mathemagician.
Speaking of melodic, I had some concerns about the now obligatory metalcore clean singing. It was something that always kept me at arm's length with the group's previous output. As such, I was someone who puked delicious blood for the first single, "Gift of Death," but took a reserved step back for "Green Eyes." Fortunately, Hail Mary is much more the former than the latter. Only about 3-4 total minutes of the 45 minute runtime feature glossy (but not unpleasant) singing. The remainder is dedicated to unbridled death growls and shrieks. And anyone concerned about the line-up change can rest easy, because Courtney LaPlante will kill you in your sleep, and you will like it.
Ultimately, I consider my money already spent on this one. It screamed sweet nothings in my ear from its first song and continues to maintain its fury through repeat spins. One quick note on the rating before anyone who is more “extreme” or “kvlt” gets bent out of shape: they are at least somewhat biased by genre. I consider this a solid 9 for metalcore/mathcore, but that doesn't necessarily make it a better or worse album than any black or death metal album we have featured. Anyways, you can pick up Hail Mary, on June 16th. The lowest price I found was $7.99 for digital on Amazon, OR you could be like me and grab it for just a penny more for the CD. If you throw it in a basket with Vattnet Viskar and BTBAM to qualify for free shipping, you're looking at less than $11 per album. Your choice.