Inhale Exhale

Bury Me Alive

Written by: AP on 24/10/2009 18:34:30

The words inhale, exhale bring to mind Josh Scogin's unique screaming methods, as well as Nasum's striking debut album, but little did you metalcore maniacs know, they also make up the name of an often overlooked band from Cleveland, Ohio. Inhale Exhale's trade is metalcore of an experimental, forward-thinking complexion, which explains their dwelling in the subterranean foundations of the genre. Where bands like Zao and Converge rumble on independently, spewing out the occasional gush of hot novelty lava to remind their more mainstream peers where they came from and what they can never be.

Some albums benefit from slow, instrumental preludes to build atmosphere, and some just grab you with eight fists and scream at you point-blank from the get-go. Inhale Exhale's third full length album, "Bury Me Alive", belongs in the second category. "Rooms" teases the listener with a brief post-rock-ish sample before kicking up an apocalyptic racket that sets the tone for the remainder of the album, a brooding maelstrom of intensity that is difficult to ignore or discredit. The songs are awash with jagged, atypical riffs that nod toward Underoath and perhaps even Burnt By The Sun; and embedded with a subtle Southern-tinged groove to brilliant results. On songs like "Condemned" and "Fiction" these heavily dropped riffs make way for ethereal, ringing melodies which recall Misery Signals during their less extreme moments, while Chris Carroll slows down on the skins and delivers wonderfully strained clean vocals reminiscent of Aaron Gillespie (with a slight hint of Jonny Craig in there as well). These provide decent, if somewhat formulaic contrast to Ryland Raus' chafing scream (coincidentally very similar to Spencer Chamberlain's).

Thinking outside of the box has become a rare phenomenon in metalcore circles, so when it does happen, the experience is gratifying. But as autonomous as Inhale Exhale's techniques may sound, the album still has a tendency to wallow in terrain already discovered by other bands, most notably Underoath. Whether or not such idolatry should be penalised is debatable, because the diversity of material on offer here is almost overwhelming (as it is with Underoath). Through multiple listens it becomes inescapably clear that no two songs on "Bury Me Alive" sound the same, and that nearly every song stands on its own feet. Generic metalcore techniques like melodic choruses, horror chords and breakdowns are used strategically, with restraint, and when the songs are at their absolute heaviest, they appear calculated and crucial, and induce a natural urge to go ballistic.

The single (!) guitar has been amplified to crushing weight, with sufficient echo and resonance to give the album a post-hardcore-ish, spacious vibe and for once, the bass guitar isn't merely a few written credits in the album's booklet. As such, "Bury Me Alive" is the polar opposite of Sturgiscore, and while initially it feels a little repetitive and unwilling to disclose its secrets, this album is a definite grower. Rather than inviting everyone along with an instant chorus, this album toys with aesthetics and the conventions of song-writing, appearing first as a vortex of chaotic noise before revealing its depth and beauty in small, gradual steps. Thinking man's metalcore.

Download: Rooms, A Dark Place For Your Mind To Be, Thin Black Lines

For the fans of: Oh, Sleeper, Underoath, Zao

Listen: Myspace

Release date 06.10.2009

Solid State

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