Loma Prieta - I.V.
Record Label: Deathwish Inc.
Release Date: January 17, 2012
The other night I decided to spin my favorite Orchid record. No, not Chaos is Me. Gatefold has always been the superior record personally. Its musical changes are gripping and in a compelling 25 minutes of 19 songs, Orchid gets to the point like no other band. There's no repeat turns, and no epic builds. It's quick, cuts deep and and leaves an open wound to your nervous system. My first listen of Loma Prieta's latest album made me immediately think of my love for Gatefold. It carries a lot of weight in rage and catharsis, but enough turns to keep the ride interesting. While I.V. doesn't bare the quick crack of the whip like a lot of the songs on Gatefold, it's quite a compressed journey of brutality and exorcism of raw, uneasy emotion.
Its so compressed, that some will scoff at the band's heavier approach - departing a bit from the depth and texture found on the band's heralded Last City - a record that first put Loma Prieta on the map as one of the most underrated bands in hardcore back in 2008. This time the band sound less like Indian Summer's intricate mapping and more like Converge's completely educated forceful nature. The subtleties are hidden in the mix: the harmonic switch of the opening "Fly By Night," and that one carnival style riff threaded against the heavy brick of "Trilogy 5 'Half Cross.'" It's the production of "Diamond Tooth" that closes I.V. in a distant, cathartic fashion that displays the band's struggle of never letting too much harmony overshadow the record's deeply dissonant feel that flows along well with its lyrical anguish. I'm not saying I.V. is a work of literary excellence by any stretch - but poetry be damned when you get to the point and make it stick without sounding overly misogynistic and tough.
I.V. is still one of the heaviest records I've heard in some years, while still feeling natural in letting out its emotions. "Uniform" and "Uselessness" back to back feel like someone took a lead pipe to the back of your skull, then ringing out the question, "What's the point in changing when the world is just going to stay the same?" over and over again. Loma Prieta let out the record's heaviest aggression on "Torn Portrait," a hardcore styling that seems familiar (see also: Ampere, Welcome the Plague Year) but still feels refreshing in a contemporary sense. The final minutes of feedback before the guitars wind down into one final blow is absolutely perfect. Again, no new tricks, just a new take on getting to the point without feeling empty or cheated. According their bio, the band apparently went through "a time of great personal suffering and transition" when writing for I.V. - and it shows clearly in the guitar scrapes and vocal cuts.
A lot of angry records are written yearly. A lot. The nu-metal scene alone is one family therapy and/or couples counseling session over and over. Lyrically, I.V. is nothing special on that end. Much like the instrumental counterpoint, the words are just as blunt and to the point. Sometimes that's what we need - the finite moment of outwardly expressed emotion in its simplest form of execution and movement. Loma Prieta already proved they could quilt detail into their powerful tracks. While their previous works showcase a clear separation in its ebb and flow from arpeggiated melodies to complete onslaughts - the band just fastened the two together, cut the fat and shoved the needle right through a key nerve.