Salt Lake City is the unlikely home of hardcore noise-mongers, Rile, although some of you will know guitarist and vocalist, Sam Richards, as the bassist of Cult Leader. His new project is just as loud and abrasive, but moments of respite lie in between the cracks like honey. Pessimist is an adept title for a record that leaves you wondering if you should play the good Samaritan to a man in pain or stay away from his psychopathic outbursts. English label, Church Road Records, had no hesitation in approaching Rile when they heard the trio’s debut single in March last year. It’s easy to see why – this LP will give you the excuse you need to dab your face in war paint.
You might assume this is another classic for the contemporary mathcore canon on the evidence of ‘Dead End’. As an opening track, it’s more unsettled than a gambling addict’s debt repayment plan. Feedback-drenched guitars throb and hiss in the mix under a barrage of hardcore screams and frantic drum fills. There’s so much happening, your brain will feel under siege by equations that want to overwhelm it. Yet this band have groove in a strange sort of way. The rhythms aim to stabilise into something conducive to upbeat shoulder movements, like a fuzzier version of Dillinger Escape Plan under the control of Terror’s colossal riffing.
Follow-up, ‘Climb Out’, reduces the electric shock therapy in favour of a cathartic invitation to shout into the void. Drums lay their beats in stubborn off-kilter rhythms the way a wandering hand scratches against pine wood. Guitar arpeggios vibrate over the rumbling bass grooves and tease you with the appeal of a self-empowering violence that you might one day possess. This is what Killing Joke would sound like if you asked them to interpret the music of Converge. It’s never clear which one of Sam Richards or bassist, Matt Mascarenas, has control of the microphone. Both voices scream with the despair of somebody trapped at the bottom of a well in the middle of nowhere.
Only at track three, ‘Hidden from Light’, does it become clear that this album is more than a mathcore assault. Guitar intervals resonate like blurry shapes in search of a sharp symmetry. The melodic phrasings manipulate your sense of melody like the experimental noise rock bands of the 1990s drawing from the river of the post-punk era. You wouldn’t place Rile in the United States. England, yes, maybe. ‘Stone Tapes’ ventures into a post-metal paradigm and merges it with the
trippy alternative rock of the UK bands that earned the unfortunate ‘indie’ label for their efforts in the 1990s. Think The Verve or Catherine Wheel. It’s the voice that distinguishes this song as un-American. Monotone and dazed in its spoken-word epiphany, it hovers in the melodies of a Britpop delivery, yet it avoids the laddish cadences. Nothing is as it seems here. The reluctance to use the heavy amp gain in the formation of power chords keeps you on edge. This is what Genghis Tron hoped to achieve on their 2021 comeback album.
Perhaps the one consistent feature of this record is the imagination of the guitar work in contrast to the glorious barbarism of the bass. ‘Half Love’ sees Sam Richards finger-picking his chords in full distortion as the bass growls like a panther and the vocals soar in agony. The calming breeze of melody is faint enough to entice you but violent enough to push you away on approach. Give it a second spin and the busy drum fills and gut-cleansing vocals will present the extraordinary spectacle of stoner metal filtered through the grind machine of mathcore. It’s the perfect way to prepare you for the mathcore-sludge trauma of the closing title-track. Rile’s label mates, Tuskar, are the nearest comparison in the way they calm your blood pressure and batter you at the same time.
Thirty-two minutes of trippy hardcore violence masquerading as post-metal is just what you need when your motivation levels border on apathy. Snap out of it. Let Rile’s hallucinogenic chaos brighten your day. Even pessimists can throw one last party before the inevitable descent occurs.
Release Date: 27/10/2023
Record Label: Church Road Records
Standout tracks: Dead End, Climb Out, Stone Tapes
Suggested Further Listening: Tuskar – Matriarch (2022), Killing Joke – Fire Dances (1983), Blame Kandinsky – Eclectic Ruiner (2022)