Tears|Before - Minus
Record Label: None
Release Date: June 8th, 2012
Today I bring you the first band I've ever listened to from Italy, a mathcore band called Tears|Before. They're pretty much the only band I've ever even heard of from Italy aside from Lacuna Coil, but that doesn't mean they aren't deserving of some attention. Playing some serious in-your-face hardcore in the vein of The Chariot, this band will have your head bobbing at inconsistent patterns in no time.
As the random symbol in the middle of their name may suggest, this band brings a lot of unique qualities to the table. That little line of separation isn't just some desperate attempt to stand out like those various bands that put exclamation points in the middle of their names, it's a sign that this band has truly got something great for you to hear that you've most likely never seen done, or at least done as well. They focus on a heavy mathcore sound without an excess of high ranged, fast, and sporadic guitar leads. They also display a lot of ambience through dark, clean guitar riffs and speed picking sections laden with effect after droning effect. Both of these qualities help the band establish a strong individuality and still manage to hold on to an easily accessible sound that retains its strength from start to finish.
The best parts of this album are the ones that add the ambient atmosphere to the still heavy and hectic sound. The end of the hard hitting "Pavillion" proves this through the dark guitars laced with heavy and spacey effects and layered under the raw vocals and driving rhythm section. An even better use is the second half of the closer "Providence," where the song breaks down through lightly distorted guitars playing a haunting riff, accompanied by more speed picking. The song continues to alternate between more sections of ambience over thick rhythm guitar and sections focused more on a straight up hardcore attack.
There's also a lot of great things to be heard outside the ambience. The sporadic and rapid changes from riff to riff are prominent and the high level of energy can easily catch attention. The level of dynamics is also quite tasteful, like in "Lou Rhodes" where the high-energy sections change to a breakdown complete with 10/8 time signature, syncopation on the snare, and eventually a fast guitar lead to change the mood while keeping things interesting. Moments like that occur a lot, and they turn back to the edgy, aggressive sound just as smoothly.
A big reason being from Italy hurts this band is the language barrier. As you may have noticed if you read my other reviews, this is the first album I'm scoring in the "single score" type format, and that's because I really don't want the poorly written lyrics to affect it. The band could easily have just written their lyrics in Italian and left us to deal with the mystery of figuring them out or translating them, but they decided to write them in English from the start, and it's broken English to say the least. At least if they were in Italian, Google Translate probably would've spit out something easier for me to understand, but what I get instead is more or less unintelligible.
Either way, it's undeniable that this band does a lot to keep their writing original. They can create a spacey atmosphere without being melodic. They can create addicting hooks without being generic. They just have a lot of refreshing qualities that make them both unique and a worthwhile listen to fans of all kinds of hardcore music, and Minus is an impressive debut full-length from a band that just proved that although people outside the country may not realize it, there are a lot of great things waiting to come out of Italy.