NARROWS GO TO GREAT LENGTHS ON NEW DISTANCES
The name Dave Verellen should mean something to anyone who laments the 2002 breakup of Botch, the esteemed hardcore act whose legacy has made it more popular now than when it was an active unit. As the voice of that group, Verellen deserves partial credit – and perhaps a little blame – for the glut of roaring metalcore vocalists that came in his wake. From a publicity perspective, this influence strengthens the already impressive pedigree of Narrows, his latest band featuring members of noteworthy heavy ensembles such as Unbroken and These Arms Are Snakes. As evidenced by its full-length debut New Distances, the group refuses to rest on its proverbial laurels and instead goes above and beyond its participants’ discographies, yielding something truly exceptional.
Released on Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon’s laudable Deathwish Inc. imprint, New Distances hits hard and fast yet disregards neat genre classification, even by post-hardcore’s admittedly fuzzy standards. Frenetic opener “Chambered” sounds downright inviting to modern hardcore fans, with Verellen’s throaty, inscrutable shouts and Sam Stothers’s feverish drum work. On the surface, subsequent cuts like “Sea Witch” appear designed for moshpit brawling, with chugging guitars and those delightfully harsh vocals. Listen more intently, however, and notice some subtle experimentation that doesn’t detract from the overt brutality but enhances it. Buoyed by bassist Rob Moran, formerly of Deathwish act Some Girls and the aforementioned Unbroken, the subdued segue that closes the otherwise bloodthirsty “I Give You Six Months” perhaps best represents this band’s inherent diversity of sound, while album highlight “Newly Restored” fuses tenebrous melody to its caustic noise rock dirge.
Furthermore, not every track on New Distances is a screamfest, with noteworthy instrumentals adding even more depth to the record. “A Restoration Effort” and closer “Marquis Lights” eschew vocals for a classic dark rock vibe not unlike certain Black Sabbath songs. Still, the majority of Narrows’ aggravatingly brief record is ferocious, which ultimately should rightfully attract metal and hardcore fans hungry for something fresh that sits comfortably beside other forward-thinking acts like Coalesce and Converge.
(4 out of 5 horns)