Weekly Recommendation: Before I Turn - Claustrophobic
It's not often in the genre of metalcore that you see a band release a concept let alone a compelling one yet that's exactly what Hartford, Connecticut's Before I Turn has done with their record Claustrophobic. While albums that follow one flowing story aren't for everyone, the band has found a way to bring the story to life and make it easy to follow yet interesting. Before I Turn are dedicated to the art of conveying a connected and intricate story and take no shortcuts in accomplishing so. I have seen the group compared to artists such as Ice Nine Kills in terms of the following of a singular concept throughout a record but Claustrophobic feels much more visceral and aggressive in nature to me than the more slapstick and comical horror of Ice Nine Kills. Throughout it's forty-five minute run time, Claustrophobic takes many twists and turns through several different emotions from haunting spoken word passages to disgustingly heavy crunchy riffs and screams.
I definitely sense some similarities to fellow Connecticut band Currents on this release as is only natural. There is a skillful display of exquisite technique and exert pure effort into giving a true meaning to the music despite it's fictional nature. Latent Perception is an intimidating and chilling track that thrusts the listen headfirst into a dark voyage. Something I really enjoyed about this record is the different vibe each song portrays, while maintaining a story thread that remains focused. The band has found a way to place you into the perspective of the stories main character to an extent if you allow a bit of suspension of disbelief. The band shows a pretty nice knack for occasional melody on some tracks as well.
There is more to Claustrophobic than just an interesting concept, there is some really solid music to back it as well. Every few tracks a very heavy influence from After The Burial can be felt. For those wondering where this record lies genre wise, think of bands who play deathcore but in a different way than your normal Suicide Silence style, such as After The Burial, Shokran and relatively unpolished band Humanity's Last Breath. The guitar work is extremely solid on this album, enough so to qualify as progressive. The production is also quite nice here also especially for such a young band. Despite it's many success, I wouldn't call this a perfect album. While I understand it's lyrically an attempt to tell a story, the wording can sometimes fall flat and leave something to be desired. With that said however, I think this was an extremely ambitious and mostly successful effort.
All in all, I found this to be an album packed with potential and great ideas. Not every idea was executed to it's full capacity but in it's entirety this is a very solid album. Before I Turn appears to have a very bright future ahead of them and as they mature as musicians and lyricist I expect some of the best records in the genre to possibly be coming from this Hartford, Connecticut based group. Along with Currents and several others, there seems to be a lot of life in the Connecticut core scene right now. I enjoyed this album quite a bit and it's getting a 3.5 out of 5 from us.