Society's Finest

And I, the Drunkards

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Splendidly adorned with splatterific cover art making it look like a grindcore album, while possessing a title that suggests some kind of math metal, And I, the Drunkards is Society's Finest's second full album, following almost a decade of sporadic activity, occasional EPs, and even lending out musicians to other bands -- most notably vocalist Joshua Ashworth to a re-formed Zao in 2003. All of this might not even bear mentioning were it not for this album's singular brilliance virtually through and through -- what have these guys been thinking, wasting time with such distractions? The Dallas, TX-based post-hardcore outfit has managed the rare feat of crafting an astoundingly catchy and immediately gripping set of songs from almost exclusively extreme and inaccessible elements. Bona fide grindcore does play a part in several tracks ("NYC," "Cutters, Oh Cutters," etc.) while also making room for more linear harmonic riffing and a panoramic dynamic range (see "Holland," "Fourth Floor Corpse," and "Dear Rebecca Nurse," for example) spanning the most mountainous sonic chaos to the breeziest melodic softness. Talk about covering a lot of ground: the title track and the instrumental "Untitled" are but two of the many songs to touch upon Mastodon-style progressive metalcore, while the crushing, interlocking instrumental prowess observed everywhere, but especially on "One More Kiss" and "Sunday Prayer," reminds one of metalcore supremos Killswitch Engage -- only with the benefit of even more fearsome guttural explosions out of the talented Ashworth, although it's a good thing there's a lyric sheet on hand to help translate his entertaining wordsmithing, which is rarely very intelligible. He is capable of actual singing when needed, though, lending tuneful tones to portions of "Deadlightstrangers" and "Goddess" (featuring a melodious guitar coda), among other cuts. Finally worth mentioning is that, for all the hardcore spirit deep down, its unquestionably METAL ruling the roost on And I, the Drunkards. Never mind the obvious, too-sophisticated-for-hardcore rhythmic onslaughts that double-kick-drum the album all over the room; there are also plenty of guitar solos (normally a hardcore no-no) throughout, and numerous one-way power riffs (see "Nebraska," for instance; "Goddess," again) that preclude even slam-dancing for straight-up headbanging. Regardless of what team you like to think you belong to, chances are good that you'll find your heart's desire on And I, the Drunkards -- a cross-genre triumph that sees Society's Finest at the top of their game.

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