ALBUM REVIEW: Narrative – 156/Silence

This post was originally published on this site

Talk about a head of steam. Pittsburgh’s 156/SILENCE have put quite the shift in over the past couple of years. Breaking through with their sophomore full-length Irrational Pull in June 2020, they’ve since landed a deal with SharpTone Records, put out a deluxe reissue of that same record with some killer bonus tracks in December 2020, and released the similarly excellent Don’t Hold Your Breath EP in October last year. It’s all come careening towards their latest effort Narrative – their third full-length and an album that does everything it needs to to keep this relentlessly driven five-piece on their enviable upwards trajectory.

Given the rate at which they’ve been firing out new material, it is pretty essential that 156/SILENCE take at least a few steps forward on Narrative. Fortunately, they do. This album may not be the most striking example of sonic evolution that you’ll ever hear, but it definitely sees the band move their sound on far enough to avoid any real risk of fatigue. It’s easily their most atmospheric record for instance, with the band leaning heavily on synths and extra textures to add something of a more expansive edge to their otherwise in your face metallic hardcore sound. Second track The Rodents Race feels particularly massive for example, its ominous synth lines backed by rhythmic chugging guitars for one of at least a couple of moments on the record that seem to borrow a little from the ever-imposing MESHUGGAH.

Narrative also sees the band running further than ever with the more dynamic fare they’ve shown increasing confidence in on recent releases. Third track Another Loss follows hot on the heels of The Rodents Race to provide another highlight, its sparse screamy break building mesmerically to a particularly compelling final burst of violence. Meanwhile, recent single To Take Your Place follows the downbeat despondency of fifth track interlude I Am A Fault with pulsating synths, nasty riffs, and some clean vocal-led sections which provide some of the most ethereal beauty heard on both the album as a whole and perhaps even the band’s entire discography.

As mentioned though, Narrative still feels very obviously like the work of 156/SILENCE as heard on its predecessors, and that’s absolutely fine given the quality of those records. There’s plenty here that should scratch those same itches, whether its the chugging, squealing opener A Past Embrace, the raging For All To Blame, the frankly obnoxious central groove of If Pleasure’s Gone, or the particularly hypnotic fury of ninth track Tell The Reason. All the while, vocalist Jack Murrary continues to prove himself as one of the most compelling frontmen in today’s hardcore scene, often juxtaposing rabid harsh vocals with more throwbacky spoken stylings to invariably gripping effect.

Also notable is closer Live To See A Darker Day – its near-nine-minute runtime no doubt catching the eyes of a fair few listeners before they’ve even got to it in the track list. It’s somewhat predictably dynamic, but still no less effective, especially as a world-ending scream from Murray leads the band into a climactic final breakdown before the track fades to distant pianos and buzzing ambience. Perhaps the only real waste here is that the band do drag this final buzz out for a good couple of minutes – most likely to encourage reflection, but probably prompting some listeners to question whether it was entirely necessary, or even intentional (which a final tape wind-down seems to suggest it was).

That very minor nitpick aside, it’s safe to say that Narrative is 156/SILENCE’s best work yet. A sensible step forward, but not a totally bewildering one, this is exactly the kind of a move a band like this should be making. Bigger and bolder than that which came before, it builds on both their sound and impressive momentum. Given their current work rate, surely they’ll be taking this even further still in no time.

Rating: 8/10

Narrative - 156 Silence

Narrative is set for release on September 2nd via SharpTone Records.

Like 156/SILENCE on Facebook.

The post ALBUM REVIEW: Narrative – 156/Silence appeared first on Distorted Sound Magazine.

You May Also Like