When the term ‘retro’ is thrown around, I usually understand it as a call-back to the acid-tinged psychedelia of the 60s and 70s. However, music progresses at such a rapid rate that even the 2000s feel aeons ago. This is the era that self-descibed mathcore/post rock group Alms Of The Giant comfortably set their sound in. Oracles, released independently on March 24, is a five-track EP follow-up to the group’s 2016 début EP Meet the Abyss.
Oracles starts with its best foot forward: the seismic swagger of opener “Dust on The Floor of My Existence” (whatever that means) immediately showcases the five-piece’s penchant for angular, hooky guitar work reminiscent of Every Time I Die. Yet, these riffs aren’t all Alms of The Giant has to offer. Consistent with their aforementioned identifier, a stop/start transition in the middle of the song finds the group jarringly switch gears into dreamy post rock. Dancing guitar lines and clean chords ring about in an enjoyable juxtaposition to the previous aggression. Although the transition from brutality to beauty was not particularly smooth, the section builds back up into an anthemic section with darting guitar leads, adding a particularly epic quality to the song. Such a songwriting approach reminds me of Nocturne-era The Human Abstract, albeit sans the neoclassical melodicism and dizzying guitar pyrotechnics. Marco Gargantini’s Nathan Ells-esque raw sing-shouts further this comparison.
The rest of the five-track EP follows in the framework established on the opening track, with pounding, dynamic mathcore interspersing clean post rock explorations. Unfortunately, the track “Ludes” seems a bit oddly placed. Where such interludes in most EPs and records act as a palate cleanser between heavier material, Alms Of The Giant already build these reprieves into most regular songs on the record. Thus the necessity of this 73-second section is somewhat questionable. Thankfully, it hardly steals the impact of the roaring riffage found in “My Inner Voice” and “Xiphas Gladius” through its brevity.
Alms Of The Giant close Oracles with “Prevail”. Its pensive, treble-heavy clean guitars and modest production remind me of some of the softer sections of Coheed & Cambria’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth, Vol. 3. This post rock venture closes the EP with a return to the caustic, volatile riffing and screams established as the quintet’s strength.
Alms Of The Giant’s calling card is their commitment to mathy hardcore grooves and throat-shredding vocals. The incorporation of post rock can be a bit jarring, but it keeps the five tracks found on the EP from becoming overly predictable or repetitive. Oracles is a snapshot of a group at the beginning of their career, still in theprocess of finding their voice. Unpolished, raw, and youthful, Oracles is a fun fifteen minutes that promises growth on future releases.
Notable Tracks: “Dust On The Floor of My Existence”; “My Inner Voice”
FFO: Every Time I Die, The Human Abstract