Disease Is Our Refrain from Seas Will Rise is a different sort of animal, because it has a seriously heavy pedigree to begin with, and to live up to. The debut of this Tempe, Arizona outfit that features former Landmine Marathon guitarist Eric Saylor on guitar, it was recorded and mixed by current Landmine Marathon guitarist Ryan Butler. The band brings a pretty heavy resume to the front, with a result that proves the transition from death metal brutality to dark hardcore is one than can be made, and made well.
With most of the album composed of tracks that come in at under minutes in length, Seas Will Rise play a straightforward style of D-Beat hardcore, the sort that followers of bands like Discharge will be familiar with. With liberal references to crust punk, sludge rock, thrash and even some all-out metallic assaults, the band isn't formulaic in their approach, and while what they do isn't anything new, it's nothing old that will make followers of the sound say "this is totally just like... (insert band here)," rather they'll say "This is sort of like... (insert band here)."
It opens the way a real hardcore album should, with "A Sleeper's Cell" diving straight for your face swinging with a relentless circle pit beat that hovers a just the right speed to get aggressive without tipping over, slowing it into sludge when necessary. This fast riff meets sludgy riff application is applied in more than a few places with exemplary results. "Wash Out And Rust" digs its heel deep in the sludge - then lights it up with some blatant metal riffs, while tracks like "In Dust and Blood," "This Teardown Town," "Waves And Waves," and "Population Zero" are brutal, patented perfect examples of the sounds needed to incite circle pit aggression in the most sedentary crust punk.
The brevity of these tracks works well for the band; they deliver there best work in quick bursts, while longer tracks can get a bit monotonous. The almost three-minute track "A Wish For The Earth starts out sensational, with an aggressive drum beat that leads into serious crusty assault, but fizzles out by the end, and the four-minute plus album closer "In Warmer Graves" just feels like filler that could be tightened up by at least a minute into a much more powerful piece of music. It has some beautiful bits, but they don't all need to be their, and the transition to brooding piano to close out the record is unnecessarily melodramatic. Leave that to the emo kids.
Sometimes the record comes across as under-produced, like on "To Scratch Out A Life," a blistering thrash heavy track that suffers from lo-fi production, making it feel a bit flat. It's the sort of thing one would expect from old school hardcore bands from a time when we didn't know any better, but you can tell the band is better than the production on these tracks allows them to come across, and a cleaner sound would be a bit more flattering to their abilities.
While Disease Is Our Refrain is by no means flawless, it's a serious attempt at flawlessness. It's full of enough instantly accessible hardcore tunes to warrant repeated plays, and it leaves me excited to hear more from the guys as they solidify as a band.
Released March 6, 2012