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Album Review: Old Wounds’ The Suffering Spirit

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Upon first listen, Old Wounds’ The Suffering Spirit may seem like a largely straightforward, snarling, breakdown-laden hardcore exercise — and in many ways it is — but this material just might grow on you beyond what it initially shows. Clearly there is an ample level of frenetic fire and fury, so rest assured the powerhouse heaviness you crave is certainly here in spades, but this Jersey band has a few tricks up its sleeve as well.

For one, the cleanly sung sections, while nothing too fancy melodically, really stand out as simple, haunting moments that add a nice flavor of slight diversification to break up the overarching br00tality. These parts are simple and tastefully added in most of the songs (either significantly or brief & subtle but still effective) with a brooding Type O Negative vibe and a bit of Deftones-ish atonality (although nowhere near as adventurous melodically or harmonically as the latter).

Not that we shouldn’t expect this as a given with any creative effort, but there is definitely a genuine feeling of earnestness here throughout. Vocalist Kevin Iavaroni’s heart seems to be truly bleeding on every song – when he screams “YOU HAVE KILLED US” during the outro of opener “Rest In Piss” and “I WILL NEVER BE LIKE YOU” on a song called “Son Of No One” there’s no doubt these words come from a place of pain and this proactive musical medicine is a form of healing. I haven’t seen the band live yet, but apparently his on-stage performances are filled with high doses of passion and mayhem.

Plus, drummer Brandon Gallagher (who also does all of the artwork for the band) is a force to be reckoned with; lean, hard-hitting and tasty is the deal, and his playing certainly stands out. It’s also aided by a vibrant, clear mix/master by producer/engineer Andreas Magnusson (The Black Dahlia Murder, Despised Icon). There is plenty of win all around, both production and performance-wise.

So what’s the downside? Well, a few of the songs fall into a somewhat similar well composition-wise, giving the overall album a slightly one-dimensional vibe. The sum of the parts may have ended up with more profound weight had the album been a few songs lighter, although given its already under-30 minute running time that seems like an impossibility.

But there’s no shortage of strength here and regardless this sounds like a band determined to grow and evolve; I wouldn’t be surprised if next time around Old Wounds makes even more effort to transcend traditional hardcore influences (such as Turmoil, Disembodied, Buried Alive, and Indecision) as forefathers Converge have in so many ways, and continue to build the fiercely original, unique voice they are establishing.

You can already hear a few of the scorchers: opening track “Rest in Piss” (if that title alone doesn’t set a mood, I don’t know what will — stream it on Brooklyn Vegan here), “Never Sleep Again” (stream it on Alternative Press here), and “Son Of No One” (stream it on AllMusic here), or you can just pre-order the album via Good Fight Music, in a bundle with a super-sweet basketball jersey if you like!

Tour dates and more info on the band here.

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