Empty Vessels is a noisy band that plays sludgy hardcore with unmistakable weird kid charm. Right at the tail end of 2015 they dropped Throw Your Shadow, a brief session of roundhouse kicks to the listener’s gonads.
The formula is similar to the one used in Seizures Within Reason, previously featured in this very blog. The results, however, are much better. While the recording was still done at Kurt Ballou‘s GodCity Studio, preserving the caustic feel of the duo’s sound, over the course of its 24 minutes, it becomes very evident that Throw Your Shadow displays a different band. Tighter. More mature. You can tell that the chemistry between Allison and Justin is developing over time, like a simmering pan slowly building up flavor.
In this LP’s case, the taste is bitter. A feeling of uneasiness is carried throughout the record, an effect greatly achieved because of the vocal exchange between Allison (guitars) and Justin (drums). The lyrics are sparse but that only enhances their impact.
Peppered between bursts of pure rage like “Omega” and “Keep From Wilting” are songs such as “Only Then”, in which the band hints at a creeping post-punk influence. The sad, driving melodies are there, albeit wrapped around way more distortion than a Joy Division song would have. Towards the end of the record, the polar nature of the initial songs begin to meld together into more dynamic output. Both “Cold Hands” and “Indifference” shift from angry to wounded in quick succession.
The album closes out strong with “Even I”, my favorite track on Throw Your Shadow. The song starts and stops and accelerates in breathtaking manner. It highlights the main element that drew me to Empty Vessels in the first place: the duo’s talent. The drummer is a force of nature, bashing away like he was Donny Donowitz’ batting coach. Poor snare. The guitarwork is infectious, unleashing a thrash-like energy with some palm-muted riffs and rounding it all off with very memorable surf leads.
There is only so much you can say about a record like this without becoming excessive. It goes by fast, and it hits hard. There’s feedback, vitriol, grime and much interesting musical influences underneath all that. It makes me want to see this band toy around with longer songs, see them live. It makes me want to hear a lot more from Empty Vessels.
Listen to Throw Your Shadow below. If you like the album, buy it digitally on Bandcamp or snatch a physical copy at the band’s Big Cartel page. Don’t forget to stab that like button on Facebook as well.