Review: drumcorps – For the Living (self-released, Aug 6)

It’s been too long since I listened to an album that immediately elicited an evil grin and an admiring “what the fuck,” but my favorite reaction was back with a vengeance in response to For the Living, a barbed-wire knot of punishing metallic hardcore filtered through mechanisms borrowed from breakcore, flashcore, drum & bass, and other EDM subgenres. Instrumental opener “One Day” is by far the shortest track at only 43 seconds, but it starts things off in a big way by introducing the unhinged dynamics that will feature heavily in the impending gauntlet with a concentrated shot of sonic violence: disorientingly technical drum scrabbles, clipped screams, general cut-up chaos. The unusual stylistic fusion at work here is both virtuosic on its own and complementary to both of the realms it unifies; the heavy-hitting breakdown plods and deranged vocals aren’t rendered as abstracted textural extracts (unlike Hermeneutics of Fear of God et al.), instead landing with even more forceful impact, as if the limbs of the mathcore beast at the heart of this music are being puppeted by a massive metal exoskeleton that gives them even more tremendous speed and strength. The closing one-two punch of “Compromised” and “Death to Me” is spectacular, and the full power of this singular formula is more comprehensively displayed as the drop-heavy, stop-and-go structures of the electronic influences take over and restrict the cathartic moments of extremity to a sparser configuration, which only further boosts the intensity once they actually do hit. Another brand-new 2021 project with a ridiculous amount of promise, drumcorps has me by the ear.