I originally intended for this to be a straight forward album review that would have been published last month. As time went on however, other music news and articles came out that i felt related to the band and would allow for some examination of modern music and what the future holds. Hope you enjoy, and I welcome all your insight.
We are once again graced with the presence of brand new material by the contemporary hardcore hybrid outfit ABOVE THIS. In our previous coverage, I shared some jams that appeared to showcase development and a new direction for the band, which left me waiting anxiously for the next LP with elevated expectations. So does “Titanium” live up to them? Well, there’s surprisingly quite a bit going on here, but all you really need to know is that you are fucking moshing.
This track I think perfectly encapsulates everything that the album is about. There’s the straightforward well-oiled synthetic beatdown that made AT noticeable in the first place alongside a greater presence of electronic atmospherics, whiteboy angst shit talking, as well as the introduction of clean singing and an emphasis on varying the composition with melodies.
It’s worth recounting the fact that this “band” is actually just two dudes plugging instruments and screams into their laptops. As I understand it, the members have never even met face to face. That’s such a phenomenal element to music that the digital age has brought about. Hell, even our own esteemed chairman Sergeant D shows how any random dude can create beautiful works of art with the appropriate set of skills and tools from the comfort of his own home.
This one is more straight forward, reminiscent of 7L7. Still, the more focused production and subtle programing cues push the overall new sound
Another unprecedented advantage of digital DIY is the ability to build a fanbase from your home in a genre where live performances are its traditional foundation. One of the experimental elements in Titanium is how certain verses have a fast “Rap-Growled” delivery. This reminded me of how Hip-Hop has been at the vanguard of digital fanbase cultivation for some time. I discovered some of my favorite new rappers (Action Bronson, Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire, Freddie Gibbs) entirely online. The digital mixtape pushes your product exponentially farther and faster than from the trunk of your car, and demand for shows can be built and booked without a radio hit single to your name. All that said, it’s quite interesting that “Tornado”, has some very explicit Mosh Commander instructions and seems custom built for playing live:
“…….Wait for it……………..here its comes…………….DAMN!!….”
Although Rap is generally an individual sport, without a skilled producer crafting dope beats, you wont stand a chance in the market. For digital DIY extreme music, I believe good production will be absolutely imperative going forward. Traditionally most bands get by with (and even work off the charm of) shitty demos, but if they can bring it live and sell tickets, they eventually can afford studio time with a producer to fine tune their product for the masses. No one will listen to your trash can recording if there’s no live act to relate it to though. Fortunately, nowadays home studio software yields the capability for the common man to make professional sounding material at a fraction of the cost. Though under a new label with marketing and advertising costs, ABOVE THIS essentially produced and distributed this record entirely from their homes. As this medley sampler shows, they pulled off some pretty impressive tricks with such limitations:
The wise recording mage Eyal Levi recently opined the positives and negatives of digital production tools. He concluded that no matter the tools, you will always need talent and skill to make a good recording.
Some would decry the Youtube generation for “saturating the marketplace with mediocrity”, stifling the chance for good bands to get big. I believe this to be flawed reasoning because it’s based on the old music industry dynamic. The record industry as we knew it is dead, changed irrevocably by the advent of the mp3. However, The Hustle has been around long before the music biz will continue long after it is gone. The music industry has never been about music having “quality” or “worth” as much as it was about how it was marketed. Bands don’t need to stay beholden to the old demo/signed/radio single/music video/tour/rockstar maxim anymore. A good band will find its audience if they work the right promotional tools. ABOVE THIS never came to my local show hall, never made a TV spot, and never got radio play, but using the new methods of music marketing in the digital age, they sure as shit got my money directly wired to them at the stroke of midnight when they distributed their album on Bandcamp.
Although this insufferably obnoxious metal nerd is trying to make a point about modern music being “shitty and generic”, what he actually ends up proving is that with talent, production skills, and a solid understanding of your desired fanbase, you too can make it big and let your voice be heard.
And so, when all is said and done, what does this mean for “Titanium”? It means that for being just a couple of kids in a bedroom, ABOVE THIS have made another pretty goddamn solid piece of critical mosh. Although it may seem amateurish, there are some genuine sparks of inspiration in the experimental stuff they try for. It may not get them a Grammy or a Best New Music nod, but it does get them heavy rotation in my gym playlist and another loyal customer. I think we can both live with that arrangement just fine. Titanium gets 4/5 Bass Drops!!
AT goes hard, but they also know how to bring the Posi. Here’s a bonus Easycore song they made because YOLO
I have absolutely no professional music criticism experience, audio recording experience, formal music education, and no contact whatsoever with the music industry in any fashion. However, a number of you awesome SYWH members do. Please share in the comments whether you think these ideas have some merit or if I’m totally off base. Who better to assess the future of recorded music than recording engineers and musicians. I’d also love for you professional and amateur musicians alike to share your experiences with DIY production. Maybe one day my dream of a R&B Wigger Slam Rap Metal project can come true after all. Peace!
Did you just break out in an uncontrollable episode of Moshalepsy? Do you produce hot jamz from your basement and publish them on the internet under a cleverish pseudonym? What is the legal limit of Bass Drops per hour in your hood/province? Are you a King where you come from????