I AM – Hard 2 Kill (1126 Records)Sunday, 28th October 2018
In discovering I AM, we came to get another fun stop on the subgenre train. I AM (perhaps the all-caps is to recognize the anger in the disc) have staked their claim with ‘Texas Death’ as their description of choice. Being from Texas obviously, but what does it all mean? There’s New York death metal, or Swedish, but what happened to the metal at the end of this one? Perhaps they stopped short of adding the stigmatizing ‘-core’ to the end of it.
Thankfully though, I AM isn’t straight-up deathcore. A few tracks offer a sizeable addition to the formula in more old school thrash injections (the band citing heavy metal’s ‘Big 4’ as influences), but the strongest element is by far that of ‘core.’ Be it hardcore or deathcore, I AM seem to be happiest (angriest?) when they are delivering some downright thunderous chugs and breakdowns. While some of them are of the overly predictable variety, this is also a band that actually works for these moments. It’s not a scatterbrained ‘let’s toss another breakdown in’ sort of affair, and their overall intensity is more reminiscent of early Fit for an Autopsy than anything else (even down to the snarling barked vocals). It’s tightly packed from start to finish on any given track, which keeps the punches rolling so to speak. Some solid guitar leads squeeze their way in as well (“Ill Intent”) and some darker atmospheric vibes keep the album from going down too many predictable wells. Polishing things up is a guitar tone that is suitably thick and raw, unleashing an additional point of ferocity to the experience.
While some more stereotypical moments hold the band back ever so slightly, they have managed to slip through the deathcore minefield relatively unscathed. They take with them the monstrous heaviness the genre is known for while giving some strong metallic qualities to round it out. Hard 2 Kill is a great jumping in point that we can only hope gets even better with due time and diligence.