15-minute EPs aren’t often the highlight of many peoples listening palettes, often they’re hype builders, or perhaps a sort of proof of concept for a change of direction a band is embarking on sonically or thematically. Here in “Medicine/Madness” though, there’s genuine substance on display in what is a worthwhile effort to create a bite-size chunk of quality deathcore brutality that won’t just be regarded as a footnote in both the months releases and in As Paradise Falls wider discography.
Introducing “Medicine/Madness” is “BATS”, its deathcore pretentions being immediately clear and forthright, with distinctive -core harshest and ominously gloomy down-tuned guitars which engage in a compellingly aggressive syncopated chug, “BATS” is largely what you want from your deathcore, nothing too fancy, nothing too melodic, just straight up brutality, occasionally punctuated by moderately technical riffs that follow a progressive metal patent. Not content with simply being your standard deathcore fare though, “BATS” closes out with a stealthy, predacious hip-hop beat that contextualizes, the previous segments of the song nicely within a framework of calculated aggression that adds a welcome element of dynamism to a genre that normally has all the sonic nuance of a toddler with a vuvuzela.
In continuation from “BATS” is the harsher and slightly more swaggering and extroverted “Captain Hero” which is as likely to be surprisingly sparse as it is catastrophically rapacious and breakneck. “Captain Hero” has some fantastic breakdowns that play nicely off of one another into a broadly cohesive and neat whole that shows a competent usage of tempo variation which is backed up by noteworthy musicianship which manifests itself in millisecond perfect timing and an excellent vocal approach, with subtle but measured nuances in the way the vocals are expressed that tie nicely into the wider softer-harder-softer-harder structure of “Captain Hero.”
I ultimately have to be conflicted however with the vocals on display in “Medicine/Madness,” in any technical sense, I cannot criticize them. I enjoy the timbre of Ravi’s voice, the force with which it is propelled, and the convincingly emotive emphasis that he incorporates to make his harsh vocals seem earnest and appropriate. They’re also surprisingly clear, which is also where the problem comes in. The lyrics here are poor, I know that deathcore isn’t exactly the place to go for substantive commentaries on the world nor sprawling monologues about the nature of existence, but they just border upon being cringeworthy – and I’m a guy who enjoys cringe. I don’t want to make too fine of a point on it, it hardly compromises the enjoyment of the music, it just means you probably want to dial your ears to listen to the vocals as an instrument, as opposed to seeking wisdom in the lyrics.
Sirens chime and an alert is sounded at the start of “KFBR392” a message to your ears and senses to hunker down and prepare for a full frontal assault because As Paradise Falls have decided to incorporate a near cataclysmic level of noise in this particular track. Industrial elements combine with traditional deathcore elements to create a seriously interesting and distinctive listen that showcases a coherent and novel idea. I am aware that nu-deathcore is a thing, and perhaps this particular track would fit that descriptor well. This is a sound to keep an ear out for, and if I could urge As Paradise Falls to really dive into any sound they’ve exhibited on the “Medicine/Madness” EP, it would be this one, as with a bit more refinement and perhaps some more unabashed industrial elements, then I can As Paradise Falls become a leader in a quickly growing movement. The additional elements never feel tacky or gimmicky, they don’t compromise the heaviness of the piece, the incorporation of a variety approaches here is nearly immaculate and is deserving of unmitigated acclaim.
The penultimate entry on “Medicine/Madness” is “Mechanical Hannibals”, which is perhaps the most traditionally heavy song on the EP. It’s seriously harsh, it’s the sort of thing that if you played it in front of most of your mates, you’d find your calendar to be suddenly very sparse. There’s not an awful lot to analyze barring a smattering of synth strings that lend a knife edge tension to proceedings that collapses into an extraordinarily pronounced breakdown that ought to appear on compilations for years to come.
I could honestly get used to more Deathcore being like this, proficient without being overly technical, brutal without being cheesy (lyrics aside.) What’s to the real testament of “Medicine/Madness” and in relation to my statements in the opening paragraph of this review is the way that this EP feels very complete and accomplished, it’s not just something the band did to remind people they still exist, nor is it a part-time part-effort hashing together of scattered ideas, the laser focus on developing a complete and professional sound is consistently apparent in all aspects of the music present.
Fifth and final on “Medicine/Madness” is the aggravatingly named “TR4K 1”, which aside from its name is actually rather good. Sitting at just over two minutes in runtime, it’s hardly a spellbinding epic that shifts and shimmies along a constantly evolving path, but it is good, simple fun. It’s a nice and neat closer that doesn’t rock the boat but doesn’t really need to. What is here is an excellent deathcore release that is every bit as unique and diverse as it is traditionally appealing to fans of the genre. It isn’t the last word in intricacy, nor is it really something that I think I will come back to all that often, but I am glad to have listened to it and at only 15 minutes run time, there’s not really an awful lot of reasons to not give it a spin.
Released By: Eclipse Records
Release Date: September 23rd 2022
Genre(s): Deathcore Metal
- Ravi Sherwell / Vocals
- Danny Kenneally / Everything else
- Captain Hero
- Mechanical Hannibals
- TR4K 1
Order “Medicine/Madness” here.
“Medicine/Madness” is a no brainer for fans of heavy music everywhere, it’s short run time and captivatingly fresh compositions ensure that the 15-minute time investiture required to listen to it will be begrudged not a second by any listener without a doubt