Wristmeetrazor are a band that appeared from nowhere in 2019 with their excellent Misery Never Forgets debut when everybody had their attention fixed on Code Orange. Started as solo project by Jonah Thorne and now a collective that live all over the USA, the group write and record their music at separate locations and share their files via email. It may sound disjointed, but the coherence and clarity of purpose on this record is impressive.
Before you roll your eyes at the prospect of another metalcore artist nostalgic for the early 2000s, it’s worth stating that Wristmeetrazor are not one of those poser bands that cite Slipknot as their main influence and have never heard a Cro-Mags record. Like Code Orange, the origins of the music here are the hardcore of Vision of Disorder and Deadguy and the colossal rage of Dillinger Escape Plan. Yes, they make room in their songs to clear the room for a breakdown and employ clean vocal harmonies in a minority of choruses on Replica of a Strange Love, but this is more Poison the Well than August Burns Red. ‘Our Distress Entwined’ leaves you in no doubt that thrash and hardcore are as important to the Wristmeetrazor sound as emotive chorus reflections, just as the sensational ‘Last Tango in Paris’ touches upon the colossal mid-90s groove of Machine Head for its energy boost with a ferocious contribution from Knocked Loose’s Isaac Hale on guitar. The final breakdown at the end is a bloodbath of grinding chugs and hisses that will leave nobody unblemished by scars when the last note ends.
It’s easy to enhance the mix and mastering to levels that are impossible to replicate live in today’s era of ProTools, but Wristmeetrazor make sure they stay within the boundaries of rough-around-the-edges brutality. The easier option would be to boost their double-kick drums to sound like Fear Factory and their vocal harmonies to illuminate like Foo Fighters, yet ‘Sycophant’ and ‘Nietzsche is Dead’ add punk rock flavourings to the crunchy metallic hardcore approach and prefer to enhance the power of screams over sorrowful melodies. Rest assured you’ll find no misguided loyalty to Linkin Park here, unlike the current wave of ‘nu metalcore’ bands pushing into the fractured mainstream. When they do emote, it’s a cross between Chino Moreno and Davey Havok of AFI on the likes of ‘Anemic (The Same Six Words)’, yet the music retains a violent core that you’d expect to find on an early Hatebreed record. The d-beat hardcore and Machine Head riffing on ‘Eyes of Sulfide’ pulsate with a self-destructive and youthful exuberance to match the disturbing lyrical themes of this record. With no lyric sheet to hand, it’s easy to guess that Replica of a Strange Love is a tale of stalking and obsession rooted in one man’s descent into insanity. The feeling that there’s nothing to lose when you have nothing to live for permeates through this record like the journal entries of a person who lost touch with reality months ago.
As if to highlight this point, Wristmeetrazor experiment with a sultry industrial vibe in between the hardcore carnage to enhance the sinister aspect of the music. ’99 & 44/100’ goes deep into Skinny Puppy territory, while ‘Love’s Labor’s Lost’ could be from the latest Perturbator record. Perhaps the only thing missing is a foray into grindcore or death metal, which they could no doubt execute if they wanted. Only on ‘This Summer’s Sorrow II: Growing Old in the Waiting Place’ do they fail to deliver. A shameless Chino Moreno imitation would give it the power it deserves instead of the flat and tuneless baritone they lend to the chorus, but this is a minor complaint on an album that offers many delights.
We say it often, but metalcore is not dead, nor does it need to be predictable. Wristmeetrazor know their history and articulate a vision of their future with confidence. Replica of a Strange Love is an album that will tighten the skin against your skull.
Release Date: 11/06/2021
Record Label: Prosthetic Records
Standout tracks: Last Tango in Paris, Anemic (The Same Six Words), 99 & 44/100
Suggested Further Listening: Code Orange – Forever (2016), Machine Head – The More Things Change (1997), Poison The Well – You Come Before You (2003)