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EP REVIEW: Paroxysm – Harbinger

Deathcore has finally, despite the best efforts of its practitioners, driven itself into the ground. Flailing, kicking and screaming against its own repetitive clichés, its messy, undignified stagnation and demise has been a five year battle against the inevitable. The depressing downward trajectory of the genre, while ultimately offering some reprieve from the suffocating mass of acts borrowing ideas from each other, has also had the added benefit of forcing those bands determined to stay within the confines of the genre to push ever harder and further in order to stay relevant, refreshing and original. HARBINGER are the latest act to try and push this envelope as far as their down tuned guitars will take them.

If one is obsessing over the ideas of relevance, refreshment, and originality, then HARBINGER’s debut EP Paroxysm is not going to satiate that hunger. If the opening thirty seconds are anything to judge by, then it is bound to be a dull, power chord-heavy collection of banality and boredom. However, if one desires a release to satisfy that deathcore fix, then one can only be implored to push past that first thirty seconds, to find a paltry collection of tracks brimming with some very healthy influences, and some very skilful musicianship. This unfortunately serves as but a brief interlude in the slow descent into decrepitude afflicting the deathcore genre as a whole.

The case for Paroxysm is unfortunate. Despite being a talented group of musicians with what is clearly a great taste in influences, the release is beset by the limitations of its dying genre, two poor opening tracks, and lengthy list of bands that have already at least dipped their toes in this particular pool of riffs, if not draining the pool dry in its entirety. But, regardless of setbacks, the EP boasts a skilled display of shred, the last three tracks showcasing this element of the band’s sound in gleeful excess.

Alas, even this is not criteria to save Paroxysm from casting itself into the void of tried and tired deathcore tropes. If one is looking for MALEVOLENCE done right, this release may be a safe bet. Indeed, the clear influences of the neoclassical glory that was THE HUMAN ABSTRACT can be observed in the writing and construction of the EP, which offers up some creativity and loosens the genre’s shackles somewhat, despite a background of riffs that have all been played before. The EP has its moments of brilliance, like islands of bounty in a caustic ocean of breakdowns.

However, this release is not merely a flaccid display of the decline of the deathcore genre. Paroxysm tells the listener that there is hope yet. Regardless of the monotonic approach, this EP shows a band that, given a full-length album, could very easily construct something fresh and needed in a world of deathcore clones chasing each other into a singularity of bar chords and awkward tempo changes. Unfortunately, it is the inherent nature of an EP that one must encapsulate the entirety of your sound in less than half an hour, and many bands have begun writing music in reverse, only creating a sound that can occupy half an hour at most. One can hope, given this release, HARBINGER offers something more, and one can almost count it as a certainty that HARBINGER will be one of the last surviving lights to flicker out into the void that was once deathcore.

Rating: 6/10

Harbinger

Paroxysm is set for release on June 3 via iTunes

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