Narrows - _Painted_
(Deathwish, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
Sweet Lord. Narrows comes to us from the arms of two influential hardcore derivations: first is Botch and the second is These Arms Are Snakes. Narrows was formed by Botch singer Dave Verellen after a mid-'00s foray into indie folk. Together with other disbanded members from well known bands (Some Girls, Unbroken), Narrows proved to be the gathering place of once greats attempting to be great once more. The band's first LP _New Distances_ was decent, but nowhere to caliber set by the members' previous works.

I understand holding the past as a litmus test for future endeavors is inappropriate, but then again we are talking about _We Are the Romans_ and _Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home_. In 2012, we are finally given a decent offering in the form of towering distorted hardcore. _Painted_ is not only the best album made by the band, it is an academic example how far hardcore can plunge itself. The result is absolutely terrifying.

Narrow's interpretation of hardcore is exemplary, with deft experimentation on instrumentation and voice. Some of the readers may be wondering why a hardcore band is being discussed on an extreme metal site. It goes without saying that Narrows lies on the border of metal. Hardcore's city limits position themselves on the outskirts of extreme metal. Hardcore has been influential in the development of extreme metal and for that it will always be welcome. Narrows however needs no honorary exception, as _Painted_ is world ending chaos.

_Painted_ works for many reasons. One is Verellen's vocal distortion is used to amplify the un-earthy qualities presented by the record. This is no longer hardcore being played in a basement or a firehall rather at the end of the time and space. The vocals tower above the already imposing guitar riffs which are still simpler than the mathcore style associated. _Painted_'s second highlight is its experimental structure. Rather than have short blasts of insanity, Narrows elongates the terror presenting tracks which redefine hardcore's strengths. "Greenland"'s four minute atmospheric introduction is unnerving as Verellen recites incantations from what sounds like a decompression chamber.

As we travel through the teens of this decade, heavy music is being less defined by genre and more by its veracity. Genres are marrying with each other, leading to a future of style less future. There, in the wastelands of eternity, music will roam the landscape like desert marauders. In the future, Narrows will be a king or emperor -- one with the bat decorated with rusty nails.

(article published 6/5/2012)


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