It is easy to reduce emotions to one-dimensional experiences: joy is joy, resentment is resentment, sadness is sadness. But any one emotion is subjective and multifaceted in its experience – rage can seethe, breathe, boil, abate and wait. And it is just this multifaceted fury that seems to emanate from LIMBS’ new record, Father’s Son. Where some acts will pummel listeners with loud anger for forty minutes, the post-hardcore five-piece explore the depths and breadth of this emotion over the course of their debut full-length, out April 27 through UNFD.
Clean guitars and scraping soundscapes mesh with haunting piano chords on “Fed”. Though I was fully expecting the track’s seething softness to segue into the title track, the song surprisingly explodes for a brief moment. This subverts the ‘intro interlude’ trope purveying most modern -core records. It also presents a theme of innovation that is carried over the rest of Father’s Son. The following title track features rolling drums, angular hardcore, and hints of hooks in the song’s chorus – all expected elements of post-hardcore. However, the atmospheric, piano-laden middle section again deviates from the pattern. The mix of intelligent but restrained hardcore and barren, Southern-tinged atmospherics in the title track introduce elements that continue over the rest of the record, but don’t give away the multiple ways that these ideas are explored.
Though LIMBS are more than competent in pounding post-hardcore (“Abba”, “Black Thumb”), it is songs like “Twelve Stones” and “Sacrament” that set them apart from the masses. On the former, two clean guitars dance in interlocking countermelodies while storm samples play in the background, evoking the setting of a rare rain in a dusty desert. Mixed with the repeated line ‘Will you shower me with tears?’, this makes for some haunting imagery. The track further acts as a palette-cleanser, placed almost at the center of the album’s eleven tracks. However, we return to this more somber, seething place later on “Sacrament” – though post-hardcore often uses gang vocals to reinforce a hook, this track shows the group using this approach to heighten the eeriness of the refrain.
Elsewhere, we get some of the best breakdowns in the business (2:58 in “Weep” being a particular favorite). Single “Tangled Hands” uses drunken, lurching grooves in the penultimate position on the album before closing with “Blister” – the latter song opens with typical musical tirades before cutting unexpectedly, with feedback accompanying the line ‘The greatest loss is when I was found’. This is a powerful closer, and one with a weight that continues to be felt long after the album’s 38-minute lapse.
Though Southern influences in post-hardcore are far from rare, LIMBS straddle this sound without the oft-accompanying party atmosphere and charm. Instead, on Father’s Son, the young quintet conjure the sense of wandering lost in a desert after a nuclear fallout, wondering how you survived when no one else did and with no direction to point your hopeless anger but inward. Father’s Son is an excellent post-hardcore record, and maybe even an excellent progressive album. Its roughness around the edges in terms of vocal delivery may irritate some, but fit the tone perfectly for me. I can only wonder where LIMBS will go after this promising debut.
Notable Tracks: “Father’s Son”; “Weep”; “Sacrament”
FFO: Every Time I Die, Norma Jean