Snapcase – End Transmission

End Transmission

To some, Snapcase is more than a band; they are a gateway drug to the world of hardcore. I know many a person who will claim that they were not only introduced to hardcore and “underground” music in general by Snapcase, but they will say that the band had some influence on their lives outside of simple listening habits. The band’s message of self-determination and intensive introspection has struck a chord with many people, including myself. As I had heard rumblings of a new direction for the band, I dove into End Transmission with a spirit of excitement married with apprehension. Its always a nervous affair when one of your favorite bands releases a new album, and for me at least, its fairly difficult to find the words to properly describe a personal favorite band.
With over 10 years as a band behind them along with three full-lengths and a slew of other offerings, Snapcase had reached a point where the band needed to progress to stay vital. This record shows a definite conscious decision to broaden their sound to create a more mature and patient whole. But don’t fret, the new Snapcase lacks none of the ferocity that listeners have come to expect.
The album opener, “Coagulate,” packs the typical Snapcase heat, the sound of metal colliding with metal. The track also sets the tone for the subject matter of the album, a tale of a futuristic dystopian society. I know, the concept has been done before many times, but it doesn’t mire the album in any sort of crippling rut. In fact, the concept provides the band with a vehicle for their new sound, one that ultimately creates a futuristic atmosphere through a progression towards, dare I say, a spacey sound. Whereas Snapcase created an atmosphere before of a swirling electrical storm, the new direction combines that rage with the calm of a storm as well; a sober piano is even used on a few tracks. Ultimately though, the contrasting of quiet and loud, anxiousness and patience makes for a completely unified record.
As Snapcase has obviously undergone a stylistic shift, the band’s message remains the same. Just as ever, Daryl Taberski’s howl has all the urgency of a guided missile directed to educate and inspire. This album is packed full of great lines, too many to possibly elaborate on. In “New Kata,” the album’s highlight track, when Taberski screams, “Its time to learn change! / Change things around / And you know that you’re not alone / And you know that you share a common fear / Someday its time to learn change!” its a message that isn’t particularly unique or original, but the ridiculously passionate delivery will put a charge into you like few other bands can hope to. Snapcase has been on Victory for 10+ years and have undoubtedly “earned their stripes.” The packaging for this record is one of the most lavish, artistically well-constructed designs I have ever seen. The album booklet is made of two parts, a high-gloss gatefold-type outer shell that encapsulates the inner booklet that contains the lyrics. Also, the simple white/grey/blue color scheme is absolutely striking. The art designer of End Transmission, Clint Woodside, deserves definite accolades for doing such a stellar job.
Like I said, End Transmission had me nervous, and upon the first few listens, I didn’t think this record was in the neighborhood of Designs for Automation or Progression Through Unlearning, but to say that the record as well as Snapcase’s new sound grew on me would be a gross understatement. The new approach and experimentation with quiet/loud dynamics and more intricate instrumentation took a while to catch on with me because at face value, this record lacks the signature Snapcase energy. But the fact of the matter is, its just a different type of energy, one that isn’t quite as bombastic yet is still as ferociously striking. Snapcase has been a force in hardcore for a while now and with a newer, more refined approach to their music, and they could be around for a long time to come.