For a band that relies so heavily on filthy, chugging riffs and an almost comprehensive absence of melody, it’s astonishing how much depth Car Bomb manage to work into their tunes. Since their inception at the dawn of the last decade, they’ve consistently churned out high quality mathcore material that falls relatively safely under the progressive categorization while cleanly avoiding dozens of tropes that bands these days have a mean tendency to fall victim to. And Meta, their third LP to date, is no exception.
Kicking off with the pummeling “From the Dust of this Planet”, it’s clear that Car Bomb seek firstly to remind fans that they are, in fact, still Car Bomb. Everything that characterized their prior work is there, primarily in form of the vicious, rhythm-oriented riffs that seem to change every few seconds, just for the sake of keeping listeners on their toes. As with the band’s past material, this approach works fully in their favor, although it’s worth noting that from the get-go, the chaos seems at least slightly more calculated and not as completely unhinged as before.
Throughout its runtime, Meta seldom lets up, but when the band does decide to stray from its usual path of unrelenting aural assault, it tends to be successful. One such example is “Gratitude”, one of the singles released in anticipation of the record. The track opens in an explosion of colorfully technical riffs, before collapsing into the band’s signature sonic destruction. Following this barrage of sound, clean vocals enter the fray, and while the vocals themselves aren’t particularly impressive, pairing them with the atmospheric instrumentation was an excellent move. Eventually, the track builds up and alternates between heavier moments and these more calm, progressive segments, which results in a nearly flawless example of everything that djenty music can (and should) be, packed into four and a half minutes.
Another example of Car Bomb‘s forays into the atypical comes on yet another single, “Sets”. Unlike “Gratitude”, this is a track focusing heavily on sheer aggression, and one that succeeds spectacularly in this respect. But a bit more than two and a half minutes into the song, the band simply break off from the heavier side off things, opting instead to play a delicious little clean break that, while short, serves as a surprising and impressive breather from a band that is clearly no one-trick pony.
Even more rare than such clean breaks, however, are the times when the band’s aggressive side is shown in a cohesive, or even – dare I say it – melodic manner. The chaos is never a bad thing, of course, but moments like the straightforward metalcore passage about a minute into “Secrets Within” make one wonder just how many tricks Car Bomb have hidden up their sleeves at any given time.
While it’s abundantly clear by now that each and every member of Car Bomb excels at what they do, it’s worth noting that the drumming on Meta truly goes above and beyond. It’s difficult enough to keep up with such unpredictable rhythms with as much precision as Elliott Hoffman does, and the amount of fills and little extras that are injected into every track is genuinely impressive. For such a rhythm-oriented band, exceptionally played drums are more than just the icing on the cake.
Tying the entire package together is Meta‘s production. Handled by Joe Duplantier, with mixing and mastering by Josh Wilbur, the album’s sound fits its content like a glove. It’s polished, yet undeniably dirty. Low tones stand out and cut deep without causing headaches within the first three minutes of the record, while little details like pinch harmonics appear with crystalline clarity to add color to the otherwise (intentionally) bleak soundscape. Needless to say, things could be much worse in this area.
If there’s one thing that Meta makes incredibly clear, it’s that Car Bomb is a band comprised of folks that know exactly what they’re doing – even if their listeners can’t always follow. Highlights on the record range from stunningly pretty clean breaks to some of the most shockingly heavy, pit-worthy chugfests to ever hit the scene. In short, Car Bomb have done it again, and we can only hope that, sometime in the next decade or so, they can do it again.
Notable Tracks: “Gratitude”; “Lights Out”
FFO: Meshuggah, The Acacia Strain (Death Is The Only Mortal, especially), Vildhjarta