The lighter side of modern aggressive metal
Reconcera is a modern metal band growing out of the spawning pods laid in place by bands like Norma Jean, August Burns Red, Underoath, among countless others. Their self-titled debut EP wears their musical influences very openly, and comes paired with religious overtones as is commonly found within this style of hardcore music. It is almost paradoxical to me that music meant to be an outlet for spiritual expression, compassion, and a proclamation of hope (as their online biography states) would come drenched in a fairly aggressive, and at moments seemingly dark, style of music. Much like the “white metal” movement, which evolved out of black metal (and maintains the aesthetic and sound, but with Christian oriented lyrics), Reconcera is walking on a fine line between the secular and religious world; and one I don’t mind to see bands walking on. While I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination, I do understand that music is often used as an outlet for religious expression (or expression of some other philosophical, religious, or political ideation); and can appreciate the openness in this regard. In the least, Reconcera is a throwback to my younger days when I spent much time in the basement of clubs and at festivals for bands like those I note as apparent inspirations for this music. Now, let me take a look at how these independent metal musicians hold up with their debut EP simply titled Reconcera.
The music contained on this album is well produced. There, I said it. It sounds pretty much perfect for the style. It can easily be compared to an assortment of records available today in the genre, and I’m not sure I can complain at all. It has this certain sound which finds a good place in between being approachable and poppy (as far as hardcore music can be, anyways); while also maintaining this very dry, almost live, mix across all of the tracks which is highly entertaining. As a side, Reconcera’s own guitarist Jake Roach actually did all of the recording and production on this album, so props to him for the high quality job.
As far as the compositions go, they range from feeling fairly average to a bit above. They never quite get into a genuinely “bad” territory, but I can’t help but feel like more should be done with this genre considering the heavy influx of bands over the past decade. Taken on their own with little context of other artists, these are pretty solid compositions all around. But, part of this review is geared towards emphasizing why you should listen to this band as opposed to other artists in the genre, and unfortunately there are not many unique identifiers that allow this band to stick out in my mind. Indeed, tracks like the intro “Road to Nowhere” does a good job of setting an atmosphere, and another like “Captivity and Struggle” provides some catchy choral segments and some hard hitting riffs; but at the end of the night I just don’t feel as inspired as I feel I should from a genre like this. More complexity on the compositional front would certainly serve this band better in the future.
The instrumental aspect of Reconcera is a bit lacking by my taste. No doubt, some people are drawn to the standard array of metal instruments (guitar, bass, drums, and vocals); but I find that it gets pretty dull really quick unless the instrumental parts are complex, technical, sometimes very melodic, and memorable. Unfortunately, we don’t get a whole lot of any of this throughout this 5 track EP. Strangely enough, even with this to say, the album as a whole sounds good and just feels good to listen to; but when I break it down and examine the parts, there isn’t a whole lot of content to care for. Take track 2 for instance, “Let This Be Your Voice,” wherein the intro riff has been heard time and time again on metalcore albums in the past. It then turns into a chugging breakdown of sorts, which again, have been beaten to the pulp in recent years by bands in this style. It’s not “bad,” but it’s not revolutionary or unique.
Fortunately, the vocals performed by Joshua Smith are top notch for the style. They are all over the place in terms of tonality, ranging from low gurgling growls to higher pitched screams; and paired with some clean singing moments for the melodic choruses and such. I honestly have no complaints in this regard, and a track like “Out of Darkness” becomes a standout on this album as a result of a really solid vocal performance.
At the end of the day, Reconcera is an enjoyable debut EP littered with moments of mediocrity. As I listened through this album several times, I kept asking myself one simple question: What is this band doing differently than others in the genre? There was no real answer in my mind. Indeed, there are no bad tracks on this album. Nothing feels like filler. But it just feels a little bit empty from a musical standpoint, but I am certain they will garner themselves at least a small following of people who really enjoy this genre of music and are trying to dig deeper into the independent underground. So, if I can give any advice to Reconcera it is this: take your music farther in the future. Add more textures and sounds. A guitar solo, synthesizers, world instruments, and so on would add depth to music like this and rejuvenate my interest in the genre; which has lied dormant for quite some time since seeing early living bands at a younger age. For what it is though, Reconcera is a good debut album, not great.
Standout tracks: “Out of Darkness” and “Seconds into Hours”