My Iron Lung - Relief
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Record Label: Pure Noise
Alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression, etc.
That’s relief. That’s not Relief.
There’s no alleviation throughout the album’s twenty-seven minutes. There’s only defeat and tortured screams. But don’t let that fool you – Relief is not like a typical hardcore record. It blends more atmospheric post-hardcore guitar work with straightforward shouts and abrasive drumming for a more unique sound.
Opener “Commonwealth” shows this quickly, as bright riffs dance underneath harsh screams and pummeling drums. It leads into “Conflict of Interest,” which is an early high point on the album. Drumrolls build to a heavy refrain, only to quiet down to a Saddest Landscape-esque bridge, in which we’re told about the leaves, and asked “why are we not changing with them?” This whole verse is sung in a cracking voice, and gives off an air of vulnerability. It’s perhaps the most affecting moment of the album, and leads into a cathartic finish.
Something else noteworthy about the album’s opening pair is that they’re the only two tracks on the album to exceed three minutes in length, and at no more than five seconds past. Perhaps the largest pitfall Relief faces is how short it is. Being such a short, mid-tempo album, it’s easy for the album to blur together a bit.
In all honesty, though, I rather doubt that’ll happen to many, as there’s enough distinction between a slowburner like “Daydream,” with its haunting “oh-oh-oh” chants in its bridge, and a brooding, but still crushing, track like “June.” “June” is another standout on Relief, this time for its transitions from harsh to melodic and back again, and its post-rock bridge. Shimmery, Explosions in the Sky influenced guitar lines burst and bloom underneath propulsive, heavy drums.
If there’s another flaw to be pulled out, it’s My Iron Lung’s reliance on a formula. Their songs seem to all begin loudly, then slow down around halfway through to a post-rock interlude, then get loud again for a climactic finish. It’s good in that it provides deviation from most bands in the genre, who aren’t playing spacious hardcore inflected with post-rock sensibilities, but it can get a bit tiring always being able to guess what will happen next.
Still, Relief is only My Iron Lung’s first full-length, and there’s room for mistakes. Besides, when the band is this adept, small things like that can be let go. It’s undoubtedly one of the genre’s best releases this year, and hopefully it provides you with relief from whatever you’re facing.