Coalesce - OX
Relapse Records
Progressive Hardcore/Metalcore
14 songs (35:46)
Release year: 2009
Coalesce, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat

One of those bands that successfully fused Metal and Hardcore together in their early-90s heyday yet which never equalled the successes of the Converges and Dillinger Escape Plans out there, or even the Botches and Starkweathers (they’re perhaps best known for their split with gods of Grind Napalm Death) Coalesce recently reformed after a five-year hiatus, and new album OX proves just why the band is held in high regard by fans. The band’s last album, 1999’s 0:12 Revolution In Just Listening was a mid-paced, Sludgy blast of Hardcore excellence, and the Missouri fourpiece’s latest seems set to put them back on the map. For a start, don’t be put off by that genre tag; this is genuinely Metalcore of the good kind, gnarly Hardcore and Sludgy Metal together in a technical mix which is much more individual than typical offerings from what now thankfully seems like a dead fad. It’s clearly been put together with a good deal of intelligence, taking a few listens to fathom properly yet diverse and engaging from the get-go. Vocalist Sean Ingram rocks a deep yelp that makes even potentially fatal moments great; he comes close to rapping in opening track The Plot Against My Love yet all is awesome due to the twisting, tumbling riffs, bass and guitars fighting as much as they blend.

It’d take hours to list all the various elements that are brought into play on OX, but by the time you’ve got through the Mastodonian clean vocals on second track The Comedian In Question and are sitting stupefied by the awesome Countrified intro to Wild Ox Moan, the track going on to sound like Protest The Hero being eaten by a conveyor belt, you’ll have realised that this is a pretty darn good album. Acoustic breaks are frequent and always unexpected, changes in tempo come and go under Ingram’s consistent vocal torrent, and Jes Steineger proves just what a talent he is as the riffs come thick and fast. Really, it’s like the band sat down and asked each other for the craziest ideas possible. System Of A Down meets Godflesh? No problem, In My Wake For My Own rumbles and widdles spastically, backing samples echoing eerily before turning into group chanting. Neofolk, post-Sludge and technical Groove Metal? The Purveyors Of Novelty And Nonsense. Jazzy Noise Rock? By What We Refuse.

If I had to highlight the most impressive element of OX it’d be the American folk which pops up, the aforementioned Country and chanting sections the surface hints of a deeper, intriguingly subtle influence from the Michael Gira part of town. I’ve heard it claimed that Hardcore is for white suburban kids what rap is to black suburban kids, and whilst in this modern age of the internet that doesn’t hold true, the best Hardcore bands do speak to the everyday human being in all of us much as Rush did and do. Of course, the chances are that you’ll be too busy grooving on down to the likes of The Villain We Won’t Deny to take any notice of middle class angst, but those of you who have rejected this out of hand on some snotty assumption that the word ‘core’ anywhere in a genre means it’s rubbish, then you’re missing out on some terrific music.

Killing Songs :
Wild Ox Moan, The Villain We Won’t Deny, The Purveyor Of Novelty And Nonsense, By What We Refuse
Goat quoted 86 / 100
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