Thursday 4 June 2020

Under The Pier - Puff Pieces

Labels: Dark Trail Records
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 01 May 2020


1. Brown Note Baptist Church
2. Four Sided Triangle
3. Wagon Wheel On Repeat Until You Kill Yourself
4. The ICU
5. A State Of Heightened Anxiety
6. Idol/Idle
7. Read'em And Weep Kids
8. By Attrition
9. Payoff

I need a kick up the arse. Been struggling with writer's block and general laziness over the last couple of days, as you can tell by the lack of posts. The weather's gone from hot and sunny to grey and cold, so I'm spending more time trying to get on top of things. That's where the new album from Baltimore's (Maryland, US) Under The Pier comes in. This is their debut album and it's been released with help from Dark Trail Records. If you're familiar with that label, you'll know that this is going to be mathcore-related and it'll no doubt rule!

Under The Pier only released their first EP in August of 2019, so they haven’t wasted any time in writing, recording and releasing their debut album. Opener ‘Brown Note Baptist Church’ sets the tone and reminds you of the Myspace-era glory days of the sub-genre. It’s technical, skilful but also groovy as Under The Pier make use of multiple tempos, riff patterns and dual vocals along the way.

There are touches of metal, hardcore and industrial on ‘Four Sided Triangle’, which is totally chaotic. The production/mixing/mastering helps with that as well, because everything sounds airy and big, as opposed to being compressed and thin, which is sometimes the case with earlier releases by bands, where they haven’t quite got the budget.

‘Wagon Wheel On Repeat Until You Kill Yourself’ flies by in a flash but makes you pay attention with it’s rhythmic breakdown at the ninety-second mark, before turning into a mad death metal/noisecore beast. Following it is ‘The ICU’, which sounds slower and chuggier but that’s just an illusion, as pinch-harmonics and progressive instrumentation grab you by the throat.

The pace of this record is striking. Under The Pier don’t allow you any time to relax and each song comes thick and fast. You’re supposed to listen to this is one full sitting. Before you know it, you’re at the midway point of Puff Pieces. ‘A State Of Heightened Anxiety’ starts with a weird, recorded phone message and follows it up with a brief but blasting slab if mathcore that sounds glitchy at times. It’s great!

They head down a slightly more introspective path on ‘Idol/Idle’ but it’s only brief. The calming mid-section builds expectation for more dissonance, which is delivered in spades. It is a lengthier song and is more stop/start. There’s some really clever percussion on ‘Read’em And Weep Kids’ and it really messes with your head, as Under The Pier tear through the song. There’s not a great deal of melody going on though, aside from the treble created by the guitar work, which is actually quite effective.

Penultimate track ‘By Attrition’ is the most brooding piece on the album. It’s lengthy and almost post-punk intro leads to a virtuoso instrumental display that’s only interrupted by rasping screams that sit amongst it all. Album closer ‘Payoff’ is another song that relies more on lengthy instrumental passages and this time borrows more from the blues/jazz end of the spectrum. It’s a (dare I say it) relaxing end to Puff Pieces.

Overall, this is an album that sits amongst the best of the modern mathcore/tech scene and one that will definitely put Under The Pier on an upward trajectory. It’s running time maybe short but is still long enough to leave it buried in your head. 

You can stream Puff Pieces and grab it as a digital download below:-

You can buy one of the last remaining CD copies from Dark Trail Records here -

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