Basal Gang are an emo-y punk-y math-y something band from New Yoyk, and Initiation is, aptly, their first solo release. It kicks incredible amounts of ass.
Despite being a fan of more experimental music, I often have difficulty listening to tracks over the five minute mark – I tend to get bored – which is why I was amazed when Initiation’s relatively long tracks slipped down so easily. Only one is shorter than five minutes, but nothing ever gets stale – the ideas come on thick and fast, and each track is showcases distinct progression of sounds. Particularly notable in this regard is ‘JB’, which begins as a set of warbling, inter-layered guitars, progresses to a smooth jazz number and then bursts into palm muted riffing with highly reverbed vocals circling in the background.
For people who like a vein of emo/punk running through their math-rock (geology puns unfortunately intended), Basal Gang is doing great things. They sound distinctly emo-revival at times, especially on ‘Friday Night Lockjaw’ (premiered right here on Fecking Bahamas), though screamed vocals gradually phase in across the EP and perfectly complement the riffing they sit on top of. ‘Ellen’ is a track where Basal Gang excellently showcases their heavy influences – the main body of the song is dominated by a discordant riffy breakdownish section featuring some distinctly death metal guttural vocals in the background. BG showcases their compositional versatility by drifting out of this section into calmer musical waters without batting an eyelid.
While they seem content to groove in 4/4 and 3/4 for a majority of the EP, BG do make forays into more technical territory, especially towards the end of the closing track, Entitled, in which the listener is presented with a flurry of riffs and time signatures. Sparing use of rhythmic oddity like this really helps to emphasise it in a way that math records often fail to.
If you’re looking for some super-varied, competently built math rawkage, I can’t recommend a better album to tickle your basal ganglia.
Math Rock, Punk, Emo, Vocals, Distortion, Multi-genre