There comes a time in every band’s life where it has to either put up or shut up. For a young band, this could be the decision to write enough songs to release a demo or two and start playing shows outside your city. With an established group, you have to walk the fine line between pleasing your long-term fans and trying new things with your music. If you’re an on-the-cusp act like We Were Skeletons, the big obstacle is figuring out how, when, and why to take the next big step with your art. You’ve released a well received debut full-length and a batch of split 7-inches with some friends, but it’s time to figure out where to go next.
With Blame & Aging, we’re presented with a fully formed, cohesive record, and it’s one where we can hear exactly where the band has traveled since its inception and where the map is taking the guys next. On past efforts, math-infused hardcore has been the genre of choice, complete with nods to At The Drive-In, Zao, Drive Like Jehu, and labelmates The Saddest Landscape. With this thirteen-song album, an equal balance is struck between the math rock and post-hardcore, while a prominent strain of post-punk inserts itself into the conversation on a regular basis. The earlier comparisons remain, but elements of The Fall, Slint, mewithoutYou, and Tambersauro add some fantastic energy and angular flavor to the arrangements.
The record kicks into high gear early with “Long Night” and “King of Tricks,” as the band showcases its deft combination of aggrieved screams, snarling power chords, and aggressive drumming. But as we progress through the album, tracks like “Disease Artist,” “End All Suffering,” and “Slow Death” display snaking guitar licks and frenetically shifting time signatures across big breakdowns. And by the time that “Tremors” and “Haunting the Ghost” bring things to a close, you’re floored by how the lyrical maturity and growth in musicianship shine through the furious aural assault with ease.
From beginning to end, this is powerful music, but not just because it’s overtly loud and passionate in orientation. The level of execution on display throughout Blame & Aging is very remarkable, and it showcases a band that embraces life beyond being another above-average hardcore act. If you’re looking for the anger and vitriol you heard in the group’s earlier projects, you won’t find it here – instead, you will discover an extremely talented act that seeks to avoid being pigeonholed, and chooses to flex its musical muscle into new and fresh directions. I really do see big things in the future for We Were Skeletons.