Written by: Blackie Skulless
Not far from my hometown comes a compilation that dropped late last year consisting of two releases from the Philadelphia-based band Alement. One side consists of the EP Onward, which dropped in 2019. The other bears The Hunter from two years prior, thus the two smashed together as Onward / The Hunter. Caligari Records was swell enough to drop both onto one compact tape, as they fit a lot into a quick six-track listen.
Across the board, you get a sense of punky riffs and attitude that pass through thrashy territory, creating lots of sweaty angst and hard rhythms. Painted atop due to harsh soundscapes and production comes a crust-drenched tint. This works well with the use of build-up and suspense, thanks to noisy gradients. Moreover, bass takes a very high precedence here, teaming up well with the raspy and grunt-like vocals.
Starting with the Onward side, despite being the more recent of the two, it has poor layering that almost consumes your senses. Most of this sound’s drowned a bit (intentionally?), if you will, almost like a barrier muffling some of the force. The droning intro of the title song is rather captivating in that regard. When this one in particular takes off, the impressive drum work takes over, complimenting this stellar rhythm. “Seas Of Consequence” and “Dwell” rely on this subtly, but ultimately focus on speed, letting the higher leads trail in the back of your mind. The solo in the latter track is a fun one in particular.
The Hunter sets itself apart because it’s far more in-your-face with the leads, allowing the listener to take on the full impact. You can gather this from the get-go with “Stagnant Living Death” attacking with thrash abrasion. The tones of the guitars themselves feel a lot warmer, and the patterns easily reflect earlier crust/powerviolence influence. The title track follows this with a bit more steadiness to the construction, making it a mosh-friendly banger.
But the closing, doom-ridden track “Bound” is probably the pinnacle song, working in everything that I like into one incredible track. The suspense, complexity, rhythmic integrity, and abrasion are all present without losing Alement’s chaotic charm. That aside, the more the song picks up the pace, the more you can gather a great sense of proper timing, stellar drum fills, and a solo that takes to the surface quickly. It ends with immense speed, driving this into wild territory that resolves the discomforting crawl.
I say this all the time and I’ll say it again. Releases that seem to fit a lot into a small amount of time tend to be the quickest ones I return to, even if there are things about it that aren’t entirely ideal. Consistency and clarity aren’t the band’s focal points but they’re able to make up for it with the unique approaches. And like I said, the closer “Bound” extracts the good parts about everything else and forces it out of one dense shape. Highly recommended to anyone into thrash, hardcore, crust, punk, etc.
Alement - Onward / The Hunter was released Dec. 3rd, 2020 via Caligari Records
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!