Post-Hardcore for the New Breed
For years, post-hardcore was a dirty word. The reputation of the genre itself has been stereotyped as embarrassing based off of its following. Warped Tour-core bands such as Sleeping With Sirens, Pierce The Veil and Falling In Reverse are tagged along as the mainstays of this classification of music simply based on the scene kid aspect of post-hardcore. But over the last few years, a resurgence in quality has struck the genre. Bands like letlive. and Touche Amore have garnered critical acclaim with albums If I’m the Devil… and Stage Four. This proves that post-hardcore can produce quality art; the good albums just seem to be pushed behind Hot Topic playlists. Less Art could be the next critical hit for post-hardcore. This new project comprises members of other, similar bands, like Thrice, Kowloon Walled City and Curl Up and Die; it’s a post-hardcore supergroup of sorts.
The band’s first album, Strangled Light, is a crash course on emotionally bleak lyricism, crashing instrumentals and shouting… lots of shouting. The opening track, “Optimism as Survival,” uses an infectiously memorable guitar riff, over the verse’s up-and-down vocals of lead singer Mike Minnick. The result is an incredibly catchy opener. On “Mood 7 Mind Destroyer: Guilt,” Less Art groove as if they were At the Drive-In performing songs off of Relationship of Command; and a guitar riff brings a back-and-forth element to the track. One of the singles, “Wandering Ghost,” takes from the La Dispute school of post-hardcore, using an almost spoken word style of singing. Minnick speaks a poem over the repeating guitar riff, which leads up to a high-energy chorus. The message in this song — of feeling the need to grow old even at the lowest of lows — is inspiring considering the bleak attitude of most of these tracks, which bring up death and suicide.
What would a punk album be without political statements? “Pessimism as Denial” is chock-full of them. The lyrics, “While the armchair activists and contrary fanatics fight over who cares more about caring less / and some say, a peaceful protest is nothing but a white flag,” show the listener the current state of politics, much like a lot of these punk bands who try to preach equality before everything else. These messages speak to a lot of millennials and younger generations. It would not be surprising if Less Art were to gain traction with fans who also appreciated hardcore political bands like Rage Against the Machine.
These songs are all over the place, in the most positive possible way. “What Is It in Man?” has to be played multiple times for full exposure to the howling screams of Minnick, layered over complete instrumental adjustments and new guitar pieces. He goes from whispering to screaming, a trend that is very prevalent and enjoyable on Strangled Light.
The Oakland-based crew craft intricate songs that relay the best that the genre has to offer. For fans of old-school, post-hardcore bands like Thursday and Thrice to modern bands like Touche Amore and La Dispute, Strangled Light is a gem. The songs start to feel a bit similar towards the end, but they take enough turns sonically to warrant any fan’s attention. Less Art have taken Strangled Light and made it one of the premier post-hardcore releases of the year. It is an honest diary into the band’s inner psyche that, at times, shows grief towards the state of the U.S.