A Hardcore Melting Pot
When it comes to hardcore punk, there is not a more unique band on the scene than Fucked Up. These Canadian rockers mix psychedelic and ambient influences with hardcore screamo punk vocals that make for a delicious combination. When talking about experimental hardcore, look no further than Fucked Up. With albums that vary from four-part rock opera, David Comes to Life, all the way to the mind-expanding trip of 2009 Polaris Music Prize-winner, The Chemistry of Common Life, Fucked Up does not disappoint fans in being unique and presenting a fresh sound with every release.
This goes without saying in the now eight-part zodiac series from Fucked Up. The zodiac series usually consists of two longer experimental songs in the form of an EP that Fucked Up release. This continues with the newest release, Year of the Snake. The EP begins with the title track, “Year of the Snake,” which begins with some beautiful Chinese flutes and instruments that follow the Chinese year themes given by the zodiac series. As the drums kick in, we get a strong guitar riff set over ambient noise. This noise is metal in its tone, but hallucinogenic in its reverb. Damian Abraham’s vocals throw the track for another loop with the unorthodox screaming he is known for, but still fit in so well with the heavy guitar. They build and build to a poetic climax where Abraham shouts, “open my heart, let all the venom go / tell me what you know, let me hold in the smoke / I’m so cold, it’s been such a long road / mother let me know is there beauty in my soul.” The instrumentals and guitar solos take the listener on a personal trip as the vocals have us questioning existence, death and redemption. Abraham talks about his imperfections and how he wishes to achieve absolution before passing on, which is the real ongoing subject through “Year of the Snake.” When the ten-minute mark hits, the song tones down again into ambient windpipes reminiscent of ancient Asian instruments. The drums come back to a pace that is aesthetically reminiscent of Apocalypse Now and, as the song picks up back to a faster pace, we get some of the hardest drums on the record with yet more impressive shrieking. The ambient comedowns in this song are necessary, as the harshness and power of the track can be exhausting. The ambience is completed with a gong-like noise that brings in a chilling piano that turns into guitar. This combination of sounds paired with the first appearance of the female vocals is almost Arcade Fire-esque. Sandy Miranda closes out the track with lyrics that sum up the acceptance of death when she sings, “Let me drown in the river and send my light into the sky.”
The second and final track, “Passacaglia,” has some hardcore guitar chords that fit well with the reverb and drum tracking. Although this song is much shorter than its predecessor, it still is very memorable. It begins with a sound that is comparable to that of Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell,” which evolves into a great instrumental track that sums up the greatness of Fucked Up’s instrumentals.
Overall, Year of the Snake proves that Fucked Up can continue to put out well-choreographed and produced music. With influences that range from Ancient Chinese music to psychedelic metal, Fucked Up are the melting pot of hardcore. Year of the Snake will set listeners off to a different place as they experience the pieces that make Fucked Up so impressive.