People will do anything to avoid facing themselves. We naturally prefer to tackle obstacles in the simplest way possible, regardless if it’s actually the right way to solve an issue. Unfortunately, when we are faced with personal issues, we opt for simpler, temporary solutions rather than long-lasting and healthier alternatives. Our favorite solution? Avoidance. We avoid such a daunting task as self-reflection or introspection rather than directly deal with our issues at hand. Why? Because it’s easy. It’s easier to chase white dragons, hit the bottle, and shut out other people. It’s easier to avoid looking directly into the mirror for fear of whom or what we may see reflected back at us. As a result, we further deteriorate, rendering ourselves empty shells or distant echoes of who we once were as we are slowly consumed by the endless cycle of running from our own shadow. Some of us will spend the rest of our lives running from our mistakes, our past(s), and ourselves. Others will stop running, turn to face their issues, and create something from their self-destruction. Standing amongst those courageous few is none other than Columbus, Ohio’s Until Yesterday. Their debut full-length release, We Learn to Live With Ourselves, narrates a harrowing reflective tale as it mercilessly thrashes your ears with every passionate riff and emotive verse.
Kicking off the album is “Spring Rain”, an explosively energetic track that will grip your ears with every emotionally devastating riff and verse. Dark, brooding notes and licks gradually meet a pulsating drum fill before exploding into an abusive torrent of skin-shredding riffs, driving percussion, and thick, heavy screams. Guitarists Morris and Patton masterfully mesh together sporadic, fast-paced riffs with controlled, slower, bitter riffage as wailing melodic overlays soar overhead to create a dynamic, face-ripping, eye-widening instrumental effect. Drummer Nathan Conley unleashes a storm of relentless, ear-popping percussive might in a series of expertly crafted rolls, fills, footwork, and cymbal play as bassist Alex Sheridan’s bitter undertones steadily groove on. Vocalist Nicholas Marzluf wields a brilliant display of rich mid and high screams, brutal low growls, and effects such as split-scream harmonies and tastefully light echoes to add extra layers of intensity, punctuation, and depth to his overall vocal delivery. An interlude built upon mildly ambient, brooding, melodic licks and the familiar introductory drum fill reaches culmination in the form of an aggressive and energetic breakdown before returning to the previously devastating riffage and gradually fading out to the sound of a gentle piano medley.
Up next is “When the Light Leaves the Room”, a ravaging track that is bursting at the seams with jarringly emotional riffage and intense, heavy breakdowns. Sweeping, apologetic plucked notes and a light piano aria gently lead your ears to a false sense of security before introducing you face-first to a traumatic amalgamation of hard-hitting, slightly reverberated riffs and licks, grooving bass undertones, and pulsating percussion. Gloomy, melodic riffs beautifully melt into somber licks and melancholic overlays, which in turn violently clash with tumultuous and sporadic bursts of searing, heavy riffage. What makes Morris and Patton’s instrumental delivery so powerful in this track is their inherent sense of maintaining energy through stop-and-start riffage, in which heavy riffs are rudely interrupted for blissful, sorrowful light melodic licks and riffs before suddenly plunging back into the hail of heavy instrumentation. Conley’s drumming follows in a complimentary parallel fashion, crafting stellar rolls, fills, and cymbal play to create the perfect accentuation to the rest of the instrumentation. Marzluf puts more focus on his rich, full-sounding mid-scream range in this track, instead lightly placing highs, lows, and spoken-word-yells as accent marks to add depth and emphasis his vocal delivery. Multiple breakdowns abound this track, each one adding perfectly poignant intensity and emphasis to the track as the collective musicality and instrumentation savagely tears at your ears like wolves to a moose’s hide.
Though quite a few songs can be considered as standout tracks, title track “We Learn to Live With Ourselves” is absolutely deserving of an honorable mention. A lengthy drum fill instantly greets your ears and soon meets a sweeping piano medley before taking on an aggressive form of vicious and irate instrumentation. Spastic, ferocious riffs that seethe with a violent anger progressively build in intensity as sporadic flecks of melodic overlays join the fray of murderous, whiplash-inducing instrumentation. Conley displays a dynamic and unrelenting percussive display of quick footwork, excellent cymbal play, and expert execution of rolls and fills. Marzluf’s ferocious mid screams and harsh high screams take the forefront of his vocal delivery as he audibly pours his heart into each word of every verse. The seemingly endless onslaught of blood-boiling, vicious instrumentation comes to a sudden halt in an interlude built upon emotionally drenched riffage that simmers out into muted chords and licks before further dissolving back into the seductive introductory piano medley, leaving you breathless, emotionally destroyed, and shaking.
The album closes with “Strain”, a somber track that will tear your heart out with each doleful riff and lick. A rush of emotionally drenched melodic riffage, driving percussion, and harsh screams instantly greet your ears from the moment you press play. Morris and Patton’s slightly discordant melodic overlays and licks sail overtop sexy, grooving, ambient riffage that oozes a “classic hardcore” vibe as Conley’s impressive percussive display and Sheridan’s grooving undertones steadily pound away at your eardrums. Marzluf showcases his harsh, raw high screams overtop his rich mid screams, granting his vocal delivery a truer sense of urgency and emotional depth. The tirade of emotional urgency and somber instrumentation takes a downturn into a gorgeous set of sorrowful strummed notes against a gentle weeping piano medley, which quickly fades into the breathtaking, lingering sorrow of the piano before fading into a silence that will leave you emotionally distraught and begging for more.
Overall, Until Yesterday has successfully created one of the most emotionally devastating melodic hardcore albums of this year. What makes this album truly exceptional is the amount of raw energy, emotion, and passion that is poured into every track and ultimately connects the album as a cohesive whole. The dynamicity between each musician and instrumental element is so clearly audible in every ear-splitting riff, hit, kick, and scream that it even remains present in the silence in between each note. We Learn To Live With Ourselves is more than an album, it’s a musical and emotional standard that most other melodic hardcore bands will find hard to match. (Katt Hass)
For Fans Of: Hundredth, Counterparts, Balance and Composure