Despite what the lamentations from angry, Cheetos-dusted YouTube comment section basement-dwellers might be telling you (when they’re not busy chugging Mountain Dew or harassing women for having opinions), fans of extreme music live in truly incredible times. The internet provides us with unfettered access to nearly limitless amounts of music. More importantly, this access accelerates a kind of sonic cross-pollination as particular sounds reach the ears of more and more musicians. Whether it’s Full of Hell‘s turbulent hardcore-grind-powerviolence-noise concoction or Destrage‘s blend of prog, mathcore, groove metal, and pop, the once-strict lines between heavy music’s various subgenres are becoming blurry. Of course, execution is everything; for every genre-bending masterpiece there is the realization that Fred Durst was once a real person. Thankfully Doubt, the latest EP from Montreal southern metalcore act In The Name of Havoc, adds another strong voice to the case for musical fusion cuisine.
Opening track “Roped In” begins wish a wash of feedback and swirling drums, giving way to a quick dab of chugging riffage before blasting off into a breakneck gallop. While the song’s structure and style are firmly entrenched in recognizable ETID-style southern metalcore, the grimy, lo-fi production lends the whole business a delightfully punk aesthetic that makes everything sound legitimately dangerous. Guitarists Malcolm MacLeod and Stephen Young’s blistering southern-fried licks add a bright punch that cuts through the muck while keeping the tune sufficiently rocking.
Things get decidedly weirder on “Judas Pig.” While the booming drum intro leads into a riff that contains the recognizable rock and blues base elements of southern metalcore, there is more going on here. The frenetic tempo and raw production continue the punk vibe and, while there are occasional flourishes of technical riffage, the instrumentation sounds organic, as if recorded live off the floor, eschewing the modern metalcore trend of studio over-polishing. The tune chugs through a series of standard “Good cop vs. Bad Cop” verse-chorus pairings when, out of nowhere, it transitions into full-blown ska complete with a “Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!” that immediately slingshots the listener into a brutal blast beat riff propelled by drummer John Talbot. Normally I’d accuse something like this of being a tad gimmicky, but the underlying party-anthem playfulness of ITNOH’s music creates an environment where the ska stunt pays off.
The genre wandering doesn’t always work; while “Rampage 64” contains some of Doubt‘s meatiest riffs, there is little connection between the slow, sludgy stuff at the beginning and middle of the song and the more up tempo verses, making this sound more like a collection of good ideas rather than a cohesive track. Young’s solo on “Rampage” is, however, gnar as fuck.
Final track “Auxiliary Beer” is perhaps the EP’s most cohesive and ball rockin’ track. The riffs are intricate and headbang-inducing, and Orin Loft’s opening bass line is so crusty it probably owns five dogs and travels exclusively by commercial rail. The song’s transition into a swaggering, blues-rock shuffle again reinforces Doubt’s mirthful zeal.
I cannot overstate the importance of ITNOH’s production choices on Doubt. In an era where so many bands elect to Pro Tools the soul out of their music in a quest for perfection, In The Name of Havoc have left Doubt coated in a fine layer of live performance grit that energizes the whole affair. Sure, there are a few missteps, but aren’t those missteps worth the journey if the end product feels so alive? No Doubt. (Yes, I did wait six full paragraphs before making that joke. You are welcome.)
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Kate Erickson