Nu metalcore is an anathema, but it makes sense to group those bands together that miscegenate nu metal and metalcore. It’s the one concoction you’d try to avoid given a choice, but even artists like Code Orange have the label thrown at them. Should we blame Suicide Silence for making nu metal popular again or point the finger at Emmure? Christ, even Machine Head fell under its enduring spell in 2018 and look how Catharsis turned out. The fact that a band called Issues are one of the leading lights of the genre’s resurgence shows you the amount of Korn worship that still exists in heavy music. Paris quartet, Glassbone, are not plagiarists, but they draw inspiration from the Bakersfield crew for their groove and anxiety.
There’s no doubt Glassbone are on the up as a newcomer to the scene with a tour in support of Landmvrks, Resolve and ten56 making its way through Europe as you read this. Perhaps, Swedish debutants, thrown, are the best reference point for the type of melody-free aggression Glassbone use at the core of their music. Opener, ‘Pitch Black’, makes good use of dystopian industrial beats with heavy drop-tuned chords powering the way where other bands would opt for the Meshuggah abuse. The guitar tone is thick and percussive like Slaughter to Prevail, and they waste no time working through the first breakdown within the first one minute and twenty seconds. Vocalist Hadrien Besson would stand out in a hardcore band, which might be the reason why this EP has more merits than flaws. This is a metalcore interpretation of Korn that ought to fail but succeeds in delivering a crushing audio experience.
Is it an achievement in the current era of metalcore to avoid imitating Meshuggah? Glassbone can claim to be one of the few ignoring this route to heaviness, although you could call ‘…So Well’ a nu metal version of Gojira. Again, it sounds terrible on paper, but this will rip through the mosh pit like a hurricane. Nicolas Bastien’s snare drum resonates like a Ministry beat fed through the distortion of a guitar amp. It would be almost anthemic if Besson stayed away from the nu metal whispering in the verses. He’s in the same head space on the title track, reminding you that Jonathan Davies is still as influential as his buddy in the Deftones in music of this nature. Syncopation and staccato bludgeoning are the default tools of Glassbone, but their industrial leanings give them an edge their contemporaries lack. You’re forced to admit through gritted teeth that Spirals has enough to warrant a repeat listen.
Melody is unimportant to the French quartet on this record, but they offer a glimpse of light on ‘Kingdom’ and closing track, ‘And the Flies Go Where the Tears Drop’. The former throbs in a brutal groove metal paradigm, like Korn with heavy palm-muting and the aggression of Knocked Loose. The latter is the one time you can hear a Deftones pastiche in the chorus despite its tough guy hardcore approach. You can almost overlook the nu metal abomination. At least they don’t rap or use hip-hop beats. That’s a positive, right?
A nu metal resurgence is the stuff of nightmares, but Glassbone remind us that you can take inspiration from the few highpoints it bequeathed to alternative culture in the early 2000s. Korn or Linkin Park never sounded as heavy as this, nor did they embrace the aggression of hardcore. Glassbone’s debut EP is a gateway to annihilation rather than a steppingstone for your niece to get into heavier music. Indeed, Spirals is unhinged and unhindered by crowd-pleasing gestures.
Release Date: 13/05/2022
Record Label: Bloodblast Distribution
Standout tracks: Pitch Black, Spirals
Suggested Further Listening: thrown – extended pain EP (2022), Korn – Take a Look in the Mirror (2003), Slaughter to Prevail – Kostolom (2021)