North of America – The Sepultura

North of America
The Sepultura

I guess you could say this is a reissue, since The Sepultura is the second release from Halifax, Nova Scotia’s North of America, while their follow-up, This is Dance Floor Numerology, was released a year ago. Sandwiched between that album and their debut, These Songs are Cursed, The Sepultura was previously only available on vinyl and has recently been reissued by these two labels. Without knowing either of the band’s other albums, it’s hard to say how this release compares, but releasing it on CD was definitely a good move.
The Sepultura is an undeniably strong album that merges angular post-punk in the Dischord Records vein with the hardcore you might expect from Level Plane. There’s even something for the indie-rock kids here, with moments that hint at Pavement-esque songwriting skews and off-beat time signatures. But it’s all delivered with a kind of intensity, mixing the angular, riff-heavy guitars higher in the mix to give the songs more urgency. I appreciate anything that’s unique, and these guys truly are taking – or at least were taking – a unique approach.
The album starts with the edgy “Now You’ve Got Your Doctorate, Don’t Forget to Doctor It,” which shares more similarities to Piebald than just the latter band’s penchant for silly song titles. Edgy and up-tempo, the guitars sound slightly out of tune and angular, the vocals sung in a kind of half-spoken, half-shouted, half-sung variety (is that three halfs?). Much lighter, “That’s a Convincing Argument, Michael” has hints of Pavement in the indie-rock vocals combined with layers of up-tempo guitar. Bursts of discordant guitar and vocals that rise to a shout turn “Destroy Tambourine” into the most hardcore track here, while “Back Stabbath” takes things to a more urgent level, combining blasts of driving guitars with more melodic vocals coupled with shouts. “Like Flint” is a different feel, more moody with discordant bass lines and almost spoken vocals, while “Font Crimes” closes with a long, indulgent flow of guitars, oddly mixed vocals that seem a bit off-kilter along with the guitars, and assaulting percussion.
The Dischord Records fans will love this mix of angular guitars, heavy layering, and sung/shouted vocals. I wonder if this album will fan between the cracks though, being found as too intense for some, not enough for others. Still, bridging that gap is the whole point, and it’s what makes The Sepultura a great listen.