Label: Hotfoot Records
Facebook band page: Link
Up until a few years ago, by knowledge of metalcore was practically zero. It’s not so much that I’m a massive elitist, content to stay within my cave and let modern movements pass me by. Rather, it’s more that there’s a lot of music out there, and my initial experiences with the genre had left me with no desire to explore it further. So it was with some surprise that, a few years later, a friend played me some songs that were clearly part of the genre, yet I found quite interesting and enjoyable. It’s still not a genre I’m generally a big fan of, often sounding to me as if it’s stuck in an evolutionary dead-end and relying on appealing to the lowest common denominator, but there’s a few bands operating in this modern scene that are worth paying attention to. On the basis of The Bronze Age, Johnny Booth are one such band.
Initial impressions might not suggest too much deviation from the norm. Guitars and bass tuned to djent-like pitches kick thing off for “Impulse Afridt”, along with some pretty intense screams and tight drumming. There’s a few little interlude parts that aren’t quite so heavy, but it’s no big evolutionary leap.
Then the second minute begins, and things get far more interesting.
Some clean guitar heralds a change, and before you know it, we’re in to some very unusual waters. A million miles away from typical metalcore sounds, the band begin a section more reminiscent of progressive death metal bands combined with the jazzier side of technical hardcore (think Cynic meets early Dillinger Escape Plan), with some absolutely superb bass work and soaring guitars. Even better, they don’t over-do it; it’s not too long until some anthemic group vocals make themselves known, and the song is soon over. It’s a hugely promising start, and really impressed me with its vision and melding of styles.
The following tracks don’t show quite the same horizon-expanding ambition, but are still worthwhile enough in their own right. “No Signal” is pretty heavy, and “Passages” is quite intense right from the get-go, featuring some impressive guitar work, as does “You’re Not A Person Unless You’re Acting”, which ends with a very commendable solo. Still, the tracks feature a bit too much of the one-note riffing so common in this genre for me to like them as much as I otherwise might, but bigger fans of the genre than I will have no complaints.
Finally, closer “Single Cell” brings back a bit more of the ambition and prog influence that made “Impulse Adrift” so impressive to me. Again, it’s very tastefully worked in to the song, and creates something very catchy that may well appeal to people who wrote off the genre as being more about fashion than music, or something equally dismissive and unreasonable (after all, every genre has its share of hangers-on and posers). There’s none of the typical “sincere” moments that can blight the genre, drowning it in false emotion, nor is it full of lowest common denominator rubbish. It’s music that bristles with an honest enjoyment of what the band are playing, as well as a willingness to look beyond the normal genre influences and craft something truly their own.
It’s worth reiterating that this is a genre that, on the whole, I’m not a fan of. It’s been a long time since I listened to it for pleasure, and even when I did I’d typically only listen to a few songs before switching to something else. As such, that Johnny Booth have won me over is especially impressive. Leave your musical prejudices at the door, give the band a fair listen, and The Bronze Age may just do the same for you.