Fresh and varied, still irrepressibly cruel
Over the past five years, Uniform has asserted themselves as one of the most restless rock bands on the face of the planet. Like many of their contemporaries on the incomparable Sacred Bones label, they’ve spent the last few years collaborating and penning music that pushes the boundaries of what people once thought was unchangeable. Shame, then, represents a reformation of both how people should perceive them, and how Uniform perceives themselves.
Screaming out of the gates, “Delco” is immediately recognizable as the Uniform of yore. Full of crackling static, crushing drums and deafening feedback, the track constantly taunts people to give up on it. Even the refrain on “Delco,” “You are what you’ve done, you are what’s been done to you,” shows no sign of anything other than hopelessness. Its only sentiment is that people are damned to ravage the lives of others the way the world ravaged theirs.
The amplifiers remain as cruel as they’ve ever been on the early portions of the record. Distorted fury ripples along at levels they’ve never touched. Perhaps their time with The Body has brought them even closer to the abyss.
The shift in the band’s style becomes apparent on “Life in Remission,” which sees the group tilt into black metal. They perform the genre admirably, and with the fury of a jet engine throttled to the maximum. The empty and doomed drum hits work with the overpowering electronics to form the track’s exacting sense of deadly intent.
If one came for their industrial hardcore, “Dispatches From the Gutter” has it in heaps. Thrashed out punk riffs and rolling toms chug along, adding a sense of urgency before bursting into the powerviolence tinged opening of “This Won’t End Well.” After tearing at listeners for nearly a minute, their panicked frenzy devolves into a doomy slog. Sludge-caked riffs and gargantuan drum beats drag the track through the mud until the powerviolence comes bursting back to the forefront.
To close out the record, “I Am the Cancer” teeters back into the black metal realm. The vocals never aim towards the genre’s signature shrieks, but the furious guitar riffs and bright tones atop the drummer’s thin snare blast beats make it an elegantly violent fusion of genres. Around the minute and a half mark, it morphs into an ugly fuzzed-out approximation of thrash metal before blasting back into the darkened post-metal of the intro. Taking a cue from groups like The Body and Full of Hell, they hit the synths and a chugging metalcore riff just before the three minute mark. Though mashing this many genres into a song is a surefire way to stumble towards failure, they do so successfully and with a level of intensity that they weren’t even able to match on their previous opus, The Long Walk.
Somehow, Uniform’s time collaborating with groups like The Body and hanging out around the Sacred Bones roster has pushed them into a revelatory twist of hardcore, post-metal and thrash. There’s simply nothing like this group right now, and outside of groups like Thou and Chat Pile, they may be the most punishing metal-adjacent act in music. Even through all that though, they remain tremendously appealing. Crunching riffs, pitch perfect vocal effects and a driving sense of rhythm makes the forcefulness addicting, even when the crippling feedback breaks one’s eardrum. Though it may be difficult to grasp upon first listen, Shame’s cacophonous journey is the group’s most complete effort to date and squarely inserts them into the upper echelon of the already impressive Sacred Bones lineup.