An overly epic struggle
“Epic” sort of ran out its time, didn’t it? Turn back the clock by only five years and it’s “Whoa man… that was EPIC!” and “Epic Fail!” bombarding you from all angles. Like all trends, this one inevitably faded, to the point where it became synonymous with being out of touch. Though “epic” has fallen out of our day to day lexicon, the meaning of the word has been joyously restored to its original intent. Throughout time, epic has been a word sparingly used to describe music, often reserved for gargantuan symphonies and lengthy operas. In the modern era, it has often been ascribed to metal, but for better or worse no genre more thoroughly encompasses the spirit of “epic” more than post-rock.
If you must blame someone, blame Mogwai. Sure, their music is great, it could even be argued that they made the best music post-rock has ever seen. But there’s one song on their legendary 1997 album that changed the tide of post-rock forever, “Mogwai Fear Satan.” Sure it’s the best song on the album, but it has one problem, it’s too good. Ever since then everyone who has even scraped against the genre has attempted to copy it, and none of them have ever been quite as good. But now comes the turn of Wear Your Wounds, the sort of post-metal group founded by Converge frontman Jacob Bannon, and… yeah, they still didn’t do it as well.
The strongest mark against this record is its constant sense of epic struggle. Normally, this could be seen as a good thing, but much like superhero movies, if the stakes are too high for too long, they eventually start to feel low stakes. This is particularly noticeable on the opening track “Mercifully” where soaring guitars and a screeching chorus drive the listener’s emotions to the sky, but there is never enough of a comedown. Things move in slow waves instead of shocking the listener back into reality, they are always in the clouds. Some tracks are slower yes, like “Lurking Shadow” and “Shrinking Violet” but even they maintain some sense of struggle or intensity, even if they aren’t nearly so blistering as tracks. Lyrically this sense of an epic is strung throughout the album, on “Love In Peril” he opens by crooning “Have you ever felt such blinding love/ the kind to lose your feet right of the ground.” cliches like this permeate the fabric of the record, often lending a saccharine element to its more overt darkness, further undermining its ability to feel consequential.
Luckily, being a project from Bannon, the instruments are still very competently played and are used to create engaging soundscapes even if they grow grating towards the end of the record. In fact, the instrumentals are by far the best part of the record, sure they are soaring, and often more than a little cheesy, but occasionally they reach that same cataclysmic fervor that Mogwai produced, providing a brief moment of chaotic bliss in a record that feels far too calculated for its own good.
Wear Your Wounds is inessential listening by and large. There are portions of it that do manage to hearken back to the glory days of crescendo core, but if you wanted that you’d be better off listening to Mogwai, and if you wanted post-metal, Pelican did just put out a record. There isn’t really a space for this record at the moment, I guess it really is epic.