At Our Heels - Misanthropy and Godlessness
Record Label: Creator-Destructor
Release Date: January 1, 2011
One of the best things about the hardcore genre is the shared passion for music from both artists and fans alike. The people making this brand of music generally do it for the right reasons; as a means of unbridled self expression, and an outlet to bring that same passion to others. At Our Heels frontman and creative brainchild Alex Pulisci has that passion. Not only the voice of the band, Pulisci recorded nearly all the instruments on the album himself. All guitars, structuring choice and lyrical offerings are of his creation. Pulisci definitely has some things he wants to say on Misanthropy and Godlessness, but what happens when an artist puts all of that creative passion behind a message that listeners can’t connect with? The result is a solid hardcore album that misses an opportunity to achieve one of the genre-defining facets of hardcore; art that can inspire people.
The first thing listeners will notice about Misanthropy is its relentless and reckless nature. By the second track, "The Old Gloomies," the album is already in full chaotic swing. Pulisci aims to grab listeners by the throat with both his full bodied roar and punishing, no-nonsense guitar work. The album works best as a collection of songs, with nearly every track flowing into one another as one giant, evolving entity. But while the pace is relentless, the lyricism almost exclusively offers gloom, hopelessness, and disdain right from the get go. This leaves the two primary elements of the music at ends with one another, and there is little for anyone but the most pessimistic of listeners to get behind. This can be especially seen within the first several tracks. “Unholy” is imbued with a strong anti-Christian message, while “Sink With Me” is as dark and cold as they come.
From a technical standpoint, Misanthropy is quite solid. Think Comeback Kid’s jaded and maliciously violent cousin and you might get something that sounds similar to the 13 tracks found here. Song structuring ebbs from tense buildups and breakneck, power chord infused chaos to moody, down-tempo interjections which only to return more furious than before. The combo of “Graves”, a lumbering mid tempo track, into “Recluse” is an example, and highlight of the album. The latter track is a frantic chug-fest, broken by a Metallica-esque guitar solo -something the band could do well to experiment more with.
Things come full circle with closer “Kicking Rocks”, which continues the pulse pounding feeling of “Capture and Consume” Pulisci opens the track with “I’ve felt nothing for so long now/what once was there surely left long ago” and here reveals the biggest pitfall of the record. While I am not faulting Pulisci for expressing his feelings, he gives his listeners very little to feel for themselves. By the album's close, themes of loneliness, pain and pessimism have been worn thin. Make no mistake, the end product of Misanthropy is the result of a cohesive and focused theme. Right down to the album artwork, which depicts a hillside of tall grass and dried leaves covering human bones beneath the moonlight, this was the result that At Our Heels wanted going into the studio. For that, the band can be commended. Misanthropy and Godlessness is an interesting listen, and has enough moments of traditional hardcore fundamentals to be enjoyable. But I am willing to wager that most hardcore fans, like me, prefer a record that leaves them feeling something. With Pulisci admitting he has become numb to the world, it could be difficult for fans of the hardcore genre to get behind a record like this.