Atheist's Cornea

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Atheist's Cornea is Japanese quintet Envy's shortest full-length since their beginnings as a hardcore band in the early '90s, and it's easily their most direct album since they began stretching out their sound toward resembling the type of cinematic post-rock that easily brought them to the attention of Temporary Residence and Mogwai's Rock Action label. The album's eight songs are typically hard, epic, and anthemic, alternating quiet, reflective moments with bright, melodic guitars and crashing drums. Similarly, vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa switches between frenzied screaming, spoken poetry, and mournful crooning. Envy usually include English translations of their lyrics in their liner notes, and this one's elegiac verses are sorrowful yet ultimately uplifting. The album's first two tracks are more concise, pummeling post-hardcore numbers, but "Shining Finger" is where they begin to branch out and include softer, more chiming textures. The slow, crushing "Ticking Time and String" begins with a soft intro, giving way to intense, frightening screaming, ending with a funereal procession of strings. The album's most melodic cut, "Footsteps in the Distance," recalls Sunny Day Real Estate during its instrumental bridges and sung portions, although the song's lyrics are often delivered as furiously recited poetry. Album closer "Your Heart and My Hand" has a triumphant, victory-lap feeling, with its galloping drums and ringing guitar melodies punctuated by more spoken verse. Even with its relatively brief running time (44 minutes), Atheist's Cornea is an exhausting, exhilarating listen.

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