- Post-hardcore is such an awful place. It's like a bar that used to be a really great joint for a drink, but then came the new management who only want dollar-dollar-bills-y'all and try to turn it into some kinda super-pub, where all the meat-heads go for their group therapy. With every kid who wants to be in f***ing Alexisonfire or Bring Me The Horizon having abandoned nu-metal, emo and even metal-core and arriving en-masse in post-hardcore, it's kinda difficult to believe that the genre started with band like Fugazi and Big Black. Then there are bands like Coerce, so different from most present-day post-hardcore it's a bit ridiculous, but truer to the spirit of the sound than any ten of their contemporaries.
I started following them around the time of their debut full-length Silver Tongued Life Licker, back in 2009. Their rough and passionate, gruffly voiced aussie rock put them in the company of bands like A Death In The Family and 11th He Reaches London, a good place to be. Coerce have more than that going on, however, as that first album so strongly attested. Laying down continually ripping time-changes that would do Rolo Tomassi proud, they bring the mathcore and, in case you were wondering, when they feel like it they can break out a properly smashing hardcore sound, too. Coerce have managed to put all of that together in a nuanced combination, experimenting with all sorts of instruments and a collage of sounds ranging from the quietest whisper to the roaring of the pit of doom.
A split with Robotosaurus in 2010 and last years' sophomore release Ethereal Surrogate Saviour riffed on and fiddled with these themes, but, I think it's fair to say that Coerce's brand new EP, Genome, is their most - I don't know - uncharacteristic work? Paradoxically, it manages this by being much less presto-changeo than anything else in the band's repertoire.
Flinder's Court kicks off with a slow-burning post-punk grind and although it builds to a big chorus, with some double-time guitar work in the background, the same, slow, crushing rhythm maintains a firm grip for the duration. That chorus is pretty sweet, just btw. The EP's title track is even slower and positively sparse, a guitar quietly growling away in the distance keeps the tension at a slow simmer. Like an old mastiff baring it's fangs the band burst forth with a blood-chilling roar about three minutes in, gripping you by the throat and shaking you about a bit before losing interest and retreating to the corner of the room to moan quietly, slowly working itself to a new froth of rage and frustration before finally, fading into nothing.
That's the most energetic Coerce choose to be here, The Rocks repeats the formula of the opener, but for my money not quite as effectively. Closer The Ceiling is mostly nil vox, which exposes just how close to post-rock this new sound is. Some angular rhythmic patterns and bitten-off vocals jump in at the end just to remind you that you're not listening to some rough and leathery version of Mogwai.
On the whole, Genome as an experiment in new sounds isn't wholly successful. These lengthy, slow-moving tracts don't offer up as much musical nourishment as I could have hoped and – I suppose it is because there's less going on – their components don't mesh easily. Having said that, Coerce, as always, are too interesting a band for this to be a forgettable record, but I wonder if they'll return to their core strengths on their next full-length? Perhaps those church-going, conservative types are right: start messing with the genome and you end in abomination.
- Chris Cobcroft.