You have to envy any band that can come close to doing a good job of taking the jagged-edged, organised chaos of neo-punk noise that At The Drive-In championed over a decade ago now and drive it forwards, not replicating but reinventing it. The sound was so ridiculously ahead of its time in the first place that you can listen to ‘Relationship of Command’ or ‘In/Casino/Out’ today and it will make more recently released music sound dated.
Plenty of bands have of course managed it over the years, and in recent times, with the likes of La Dispute, Balance and Composure, Piano Becomes The Teeth and others we’ve seen something of a renaissance of the style. Now, with the re-release of their debut full length This Will Come To Pass, following the success of its first issue last year, Calculator are attempting to take their place at the table.
As ‘Overture’ explodes into existence, thrashing and writhing throughout its minute and forty-two second lifespan, it certainly recalls vividly the aforementioned fathers of contemporary post-hardcore, with a healthy dash of Touché Amore for good measure. It’s worth noting however that Calculator have been around just as long as Touché and so to describe them as an influence would be somewhat unfair.
It must also be said that their sound is definitely more aggressive and spikey, with unkind, jarring riffs which are as frantic as they are furious. Amidst the maelstrom of sound a melody is alive somewhere in its depths but it’s much harder to get to grips with than a lot of their peers. This is a band who require a real investment and won’t just give you a quick hit.
The wonderful drumming which is the focus of the intro to ‘Becoming Whispers’ showcases just how important the band’s percussionist is: the glue that somehow manages to hold together the sounds that feel like they are about to break apart and fly away at any moment. But there are some lovely moments of calm amidst the storm as well, such as the gently lilting vocals in ‘Permanent State of Daylight’ and the moving and quite beautiful interlude that is ‘First Shadow of Evening’.
It has to be asked though – what do Calculator offer above and beyond what we have already heard? In all honesty, not a great deal. They are certainly fantastic musicians and have the understanding required to craft such complex arrangements – brainy hardcore as you might put it in layman’s terms. But although with enough time invested there’s no doubt this album will reveal itself to be a worthy investment, it’s not pulling up any trees either.
If you’re into the bands I’ve mentioned in this review, then like me you’re really going to dig This Will Come To Pass, but expect more of the same rather than the next big thing.
– Alex Phelan