If you ever think that heavy bands tend to lose a sense of ‘rawness’ or ‘grittiness’ when it comes to releasing their first album, ‘World Of Grief’ takes away all preconceptions of compromise. The Canadian skramz outfit previously released split EPs with the likes of fellow western screamo Algae Bloom, Healing Powers and Thisismenotthinkingofyou. Here, it appears the band have taken all the best elements from their previous releases and condensed them into a miserable full length record.
The opening track ‘Months & Months’ is stripped down, with a fairly simple guitar line that blisters into the chorus. The songwriting has more depth to it this time yet retains a rough-around-the-edges, DIY feel to it. Front-woman Nicole Boychuk’s vocals sound less aggressive, instead releasing a half shriek that exemplifies an aura of hopelessness. Melancholy and over-dramatic lyrics are of course two of the most important factors when it comes to skramz, but here Boychuk’s delivery sounds very meta, almost like emotional vomit rather than an obvious choice of self depreciation.
The first half of the record is the “dark” side. This is abundantly clear with the amount of sharp, fast riffs that pummel you into submission alongside the shrill shrieks, with lyrics such as “There’s desperation in my voice when you ask ‘what’s new’, and you expect an outcome in all things, but I’ve realised we’re both still seeking nothing.” Again, the structure of the lyrics is intentionally disjointed and uncomfortable, unwilling to fit into a traditional rhyming scheme and forcing you to take notice of the despair. The wall of noise built up at the end of ‘A Certain Kind Of Love’ is reminiscent of 2006-era Suis La Lune, showing that I Hate Sex aren’t afraid to let their influences bleed through into their work.
Following this, the glistening instrumental track ‘The Flood’ brings us to I Hate Sex’s “light” side of the album, although light more likely refers to some of the ‘happier’ chord progressions rather than a refuge from emotional turmoil. On tracks like ‘Worry’ the structure is indeed much lighter, and from the lyrics alone you probably wouldn’t even think this was a screamo song. However, once again it’s Boychuk’s raspy and bleak performance that sets the perfect contrast. The tremolo sweeps of ‘Mean Pills’ demonstrate a nice sense of versatility; a quality that again, a lot of screamo bands sometimes struggle to obtain. The second half of the record has so much to offer, even in elongated melancholy or fizzled bursts of energy.
Arguably the saddest moment of this record comes from it’s concluding track ‘No Exit’, which isn’t too dissimilar to the last song on Touche Amore’s sophomore record ‘Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me’. Instead of an uplifting post-rock crescendo however we’re left with Boychuk defeated and broken by the end, exclaiming; “When I ask you to take me back to the water, please hold me under”. The thunderous drum fills and dissonant guitar lines at the very end complete this melancholic package, leaving you yearning for more.
On the whole, there’s not a glimmer of hope on ‘World Of Grief’, and even when it seems as if things might turn out okay, you’re sent back down to wallow in your own despair. The anguish and pain channelled here is unrelenting and unforgiving, with I Hate Sex offering no real answers, but very much giving us an outlet for all our endless frustrations in life.