I’ll be honest, whenever I see a band described as metallic hardcore my eyes kind of glaze over as a first response. However, the promo blurb for this one intrigued me, I must confess, so I’ll reproduce it here – “Formed out of a mutual love of metallic hardcore but despair at its lack of ambition, Ithaca draw influence from everything from Southern doom to 90’s math rock as well as the untethered savagery of early Poison The Well and melodious battery of Oathbreaker.” Couple this with the fact that this is being released on the very reliable Holy Roar Records, and I knew I had to at least give it a listen.
I’m glad I did.
So yes, Ithaca play a mix of metal and hardcore that also draws influence from other styles, resulting in 32 minutes of material that recalls the heady Trustkill/Ferret records days of the early 00s, only with somewhat of a uniquely UK slant. Early Poison the Well is definitely an influence here, and it’s great to hear their fuzzy Tear from the Red-era sound reproduced so faithfully, while also having more than enough of Ithaca’s own personality injected into things to avoid sounding plagiarised or stale.
Imagine this era of Poison the Well mixed with something more experimental and atypical like Rolo Tomassi. There’s some more modern math and metalcore elements here, as well as a delightful Southern squeal to the guitars on occasion. In fact, you name it and it’s probably here somewhere. A touch of blackgaze? The sharp savagery of Zao? Post-metal melodies? Sheer heaviness and crushing guitars? Emotive delivery and delicate nuance? Caustic, raw vocals that sound like the singer is going to tear her throat to shreds? Atmospheric clean vocals? These are all used in the right amounts, ranging from some that are relied on heavily, (aggressive vocals), and some that are not, (ethereal clean backing female singing), but all work a treat when deployed in service of the band’s compelling vision for what heavy music should sound like in 2019.
Apparently metalcore and related styles are having somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late. I don’t see it that much myself, as I tend to mainly concentrate on more extreme metal territories. However, regardless of whether this is true or not, I’ve absolutely devoured The Language of Injury. This kind of inventive, emotive, hardcore-rooted aggression was at its height for me in the early/mid 00s, so it’s great to hear a band take the creative aggression of that era and update it with contemporary influences.
The Language of Injury is a stunningly enjoyable record. Despite some older comparisons from me, it’s a thoroughly modern record, and 2019 should be Ithaca’s year if there’s any justice.