Coalesce – OX
Record Label: Relapse Records
Release Date: June 9, 2009
There was a time when underground metal wasn't a flood of fast sweeps, choruses and the inevitable breakdown. Back in the bridge of the new millennium, bands such as Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge and Cave In began to take the D.I.Y. hardcore of the '90s and blend it with snazzy riffs wrapped in vocal onslaughts that were as rhythmic as the time signatures belted out by their respective instruments.
Coalesce released 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening in 1999. The album was a chalkboard of changes up that never let up once for the listener to breathe and calculate what had just happened. Ten years later, Coalesce return (except for original drummer James Dewees who is replaced by the equally talented Nathan Richardson) for their follow-up to the monumental third full-length.
After ten years, could the band still pull it off? With thousands of bands within the decade imitating the band's style, and often falling short, could Coalesce revise the books, and re-educate their peers and followers alike? When the last lyric on "There is a Word Hidden in the Ground" is "The will is not what saved me," then the band is sure to pull out something great, right?
OX opens with "The Plot Against My Love," and there's no remorse from the band off the bat. The guitars swirl relentlessly while vocalist Sean Ingram shows he still knows how to wrap his words around the music -- literally. The listener will notice the "down home country" feel right away with "The Comedian in Question," along with many of the intros to songs such as the following track, "Wild Ox Moan," and the interlude "Where Satire Sours." This is a fresh touch on the album's core, but at times, they seem like unnecessary breaks the album doesn't need to contain for a band one expects to be pummeled by from start to finish.
"In My Wake, For My Own," and "By What We Refuse" stand out in the band's style of continuing their previous sound, but striving for a progressive edge. In other words, they are creative takes on a cemented groove, and they work out well. Coalesce take risks with their new venture that will either turn older fans off, or have them praising the band for pulling off contemporary feats.
OX is both a history lesson for some, and a breath of relief for others. For fourteen songs in little over a half an hour, Coalesce have proven their worth a decade later, and it's time for many listeners and artists alike to clap their hands in kudos.