Review: “The Language of Injury” by Ithaca

Following a pair of EPs in 2014’s “The Narrow Way” and 2015’s “Trespassers”, Sam Jones, James Lewis, Will Sweet, Drew Haycock and Djamila Azzouz saw their hard work pay off with their 1st February released and critically acclaimed album “The Language of Injury”.

Soaked in feedback “New Covenant” starts things off with a marching drum pattern before a momentary pause and then the headlong rush into some caustic banshee whaling from Djamila Azzouz coupled with a lead flourish in a chaotic Hardcore style. Broken by a peaceful melodic break albeit without ant vocal styling changes before another short sharp burst of hardcore, it’s a savage heavy hitting and free feeling piece of mastery. “Impulse Crush” keeps that sense of urgency with chaotic controlled breakdown after breakdown coupled with squeals a plenty. Obvious comparisons between Djamila Azzouz and Employed To Serve frontman Justine Jones vocal styles are apparent but the music of Ithaca has a freer more chaotic sense than that of the Nasty Hardcore band. Perhaps surprisingly this cut features a gang chant with other members of the band getting in on some call and response that will work well live, while that breakdown overlayed in part by a lead riff just mint. Bouncing in like a rubber ball “Secretspace” then mellows out musically with a piece of post-hardcore bridging that perhaps you’d expect to be accompanied by some clean vocals. Instead the uncleans remain but there is a whispered sense to them. When the song kicks back in its soaked in a melloncholic haunting sadness despite being heavy.

The crushing “Slow Negative Order” features some interesting vocal changes with some clean harmony in the background of some harsh male uncleans. By no means a slow track, despite the title, it keeps pace with the hardcore while offering up a new perspective. There is the influence of a number of Deathwish bands and perhaps even Johnny Truant. “(no translation)” is the melodic break that takes the magic of the break in “Secretspace” and expands on it for a 120 seconds of shoegazing guitar with cafe chatter background noise. It’s a piece of beauty that gives a sense of calm tranquility before the title track punches you full in the face. As you might expect “The Language of Injury” comes out of the gate swinging. After a rush of feedback some nasty Hardcore guitars kick in with and while there is a buried clean vocal like it’s the savage uncleans of Djamila Azzouz that you might hear first. In some ways modernization of what a number of 2000 era Mathcore bands were doing, this one bites, barks and sways with emotive lyrics and a deeper meaning to the song writing. This cut also sees perhaps inevitably some clean vocals from Djamila Azzouz, however they’re just a kiss to the track rather than a full on verse or chorus.

Introduced by some of the shoegazing guitar work “Clsr.” enjoys a 38 second break that ties the album together nicely before it kicks in full throttle offering us some choice riffs while emotions run high with lyrics of getting closer to someone only to be pushed and pulled around. Offering some more straight forward sounds “Youth Vs Wisdom” manages to keep you guessing from start to finish. A driven track that sees the vocals pushed to the brink of throat shredding, it has some decent twists and turns with guitar drops that pick back up rather than taking the opportunity to dive into the melody of some of the earlier tracks. The loud to soft (or pretty to harsh) approach that serves Ithaca well thought their self titled debut album is no more evident than it is on “Gift”. The sense of madness in the final clean sung verse makes for an immense track. Having a nearly 2 minute piece of soaring instrumental at the start of “Better Abuse”, it is a longer cut that could point the direction for the band to come. The soaring leads remain but buried partly by the rhythm section crush of pounding kit work and pummelling bass before a shoegazing guitar break that is smashed into a million pieces by a final verse breakdown section that showcases the best of the bands double edged sword in 30 seconds. [8.5/10]

Track listing

  1. New Covenant
  2. Impulse Crush
  3. Secretspace
  4. Slow Negative Order
  5. (no translation)
  6. The Language of Injury
  7. Clsr.
  8. Youth Vs Wisdom
  9. Gift
  10. Better Abuse

“The Language of Injury” by Ithaca is out now via Holy Roar Records and available over at bandcamp

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