September 12, 2012

Album Review: Birds In Row's You, Me, & The Violence

Hardcore has always been, by default, an "American" music genre, which sometimes makes it impossible to pay close attention to the bands outside the country who are carrying on the torch elsewhere. Stylistically, we've grown accustom to Los Angeles hardcore flaunting a devastating, fast and physical wear and tear where as the east coast scenes harbor influence from the scene's artsier, "intellectual" progressions established during its peak of the '80s and early '90s. Location is everything, which is what makes Laval, France's Birds In Row a completely different anomaly when positioned against their flock of heavy-edged contemporaries. Segregated on the other side of the globe away from American influence, the BUZZSound trio has a distinct creative upper hand in that their far off proximity gives them the opportunity to interpret hardcore from an outsider perspective. After respectively maneuvering through thrashing powerviolence and a vast, dark atmosphere of post-rock on early material, Birds In Row's formal debut You, Me, & The Violence join both armies to wage war on the definable.

Chaos is a thing that hardcore bands thrive upon to feed their sound, but these French hardcore genre-skippers have ultimately prevailed in finding a way to tame the beast without necessarily domesticating it. The LP's climactic beginning "Pilori" finds Birds of Row plowing through shredded riffs as frontman Bart Hirigoyen throats his way into the fray, throwing no caution to the wind until the all-out-war aggression is engulfed by a nuclear aftermath of reverb. It's a notable pattern throughout the entirety of You, Me & The Violence, yet what makes the stop-and-go fulfill its intentions is how it unveils the blackened hungry heart of the band's raw emotions. "Guillotine" and the title track seek out moments of silence that immediately invite youthful rebellion via call-and-response anthemry in the midst of the driving turmoil encircling it while the shorter-paced steps in between ("Cages," "Cold War Everyday" and "Police & Thieves") don't bother taking breaths, and instead bridge the polarized energy seamlessly. The album's closer, "Lovers Have Their Say," might be the only only moment (and a lengthy one at that) on You, Me, & The Violence where Birds In Row escape themselves in favor of a sprawling post-rock epic that assesses the collateral damage with a silent shout.

There is no right or wrong way to define the style of hardcore Birds In Row audaciously set in front of listeners on their formal debut. It's through and through an album that epitomizes Deathwish's outside-the-box approach to reinvigorating the genre through innovation, yet still appeasing on all fronts. Fans of vets like Converge and American Nightmare will be satisfied by the underlying societal perspective that bleeds in each track's words, while listeners of next wave bands such as Loma Prieta and Touché Amoré will cling to the emotional charge dissipated in the heavy reverb. West coast, east coast, France or the outer limits of space -- Birds In Row's outsider perspective has not only granted them access to reimagining hardcore on You, Me, & The Violence, but in a rarity, gather its sub-divided limbs into one collective body as well.

Birds In Row's You, Me & The Violence is available now on Deathwish Inc.

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