Sunday, January 29, 2012

Record Review: Robert of the Square "Time. Truth. Heart." (Hollow Earth Records)

A compelling debut EP from Robert of the Square that generates great hope for European avant-garde hardcore’s future. Rooted in both Botch-like dissonant structures and more expansive post-rock/post-hardcore themes, they explore the whole musical territory inbetween while treading in new ground. They develop a mature sound before they even introducing themselves.

Genre: Post-hardcore/Metal
Country: Italy
Label: Hollow Earth Records (link)
Band Website: Bandcamp

To be honest, the only thing I know about Italy’s hardcore is only some bandanna thrash and oldschool hardcore punk. Robert of the Square, from Trieste are remarkably different. They deliver a solid debut EP that is at least promising of great things to come. Surprisingly, their sound is already ‘mature’ enough to explore, appropriate and combine their influences to craft five ‘driving’ songs hard to go unnoticed. Well-written, skillfully-executed with an outstanding production their sound rests equally on mathcore and more expansive post-hardcore.

Although a comparsion with American peers like Achilles or The Minor Times (who came into prominence in the latter half of the 2010’s) would be valid, the listener soon realizes that Robert Of The Square consciously depart from that sound to explore a softer, more progressive and atmospheric side of the genre. For instance, the song ‘Dominio’ demonstrates most evidently their European character with dark haunting melodic riffing while still keeping the dazzling, palindromic Botch affairs all too well blended. Their sound is also informed by post-rock aficionados Mogwai and Red Sparrows.

The first number ‘Time’ is quite representative of what Robert Of The Square stand for musically: They enter the musical landscape with an interesting 1 minute ‘showcase’ of their explorative sound palette that sets the tone for the rest of the EP just to give place to typical mid-paced ‘cumbersome’ dissonance of Botch and the likes to fall back to more ‘stretched’ post-hardcore passages of earlier Swedish stalwarts like Burst and Breach.

There is no drawback in this EP, just plenty of memorable moment throughout the whole set. From the exquisite slow second part of ‘Truth’ that broadcasts some glimmers of unwinding hope to the dynamic complexity of ‘Impero’ which resembles some early-Norma Jean vibes and the monolithic heaviness of ‘Ego’ the genre of heavy, experimental music has won a gifted exponent. The vocals express insight and pressure, hard and throaty with no exceptions.

Every song is a creation, every song is ‘driving’ with manifold changes and tempo shifts intermingled, every song has a reason to be there altogether creating an exciting flow in the album. This EP, unsettling and experimental as it is, may open many musical paths for Robert Of The Square to follow. I recommend everybody to check them out, because they are a great hope for the avant-garde hardcore scene of Europe.
- Rigas

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