There Were Wires – Somnambulists EP

There Were Wires
Somnambulists EP

As it turns out, this review has become something a bit more than a formal analysis of There Were Wire’s latest EP; it has instead turned into a posthumous appraisal of the band’s final work. A quick visit to the band’s website for some research has informed me that the Boston quintet has decided (for reasons not mentioned on the site) to call it quits. I can’t say that I’m terribly disappointed as this is actually my first encounter with the group, but if Somnambulists is any indication of where this band was headed musically, then I’m sure that there are plenty of fans in New England that are mourning the loss of these hardcore stalwarts.
It’s not that There Were Wires’ brand of noise-infested hardcore is particularly unique or innovative, but even a cursory examination of this fine EP reveals a band that was evolving beyond the derivative by-the-numbers posturing and imitation that plagues the majority of its contemporaries, and stepping into something much more challenging and compelling by embracing the constrained chaos and heavily textured rumblings of more adventurous bands like Neurosis and Isis. Witness the caustic “New Doom,” which opens with a bludgeoning blast of sludgy, churning guitars, thundering bass, and pounding drums spiraling ferociously out of control. However, the band is able to rein things in just in time to erupt into a frenzy of jagged, lashing riffs and pummeling rhythms boiling over with tightly-wound energy. Vocalist Jaime Mason spits venom and vitriol with a voracious combination of gritty screaming and fractured melodies that bend and break against the crushing weight of the menacing musical assault. Somehow through all this abrasive cacophony the band manages to slip in a stark, atmospheric interlude grounded by drummer Ryan Begley’s relentless ride and snare work, Jebb Riley’s propulsive bursts of buoyant bass, and sparkling waves of glittering guitars supplied by Don Belcastro and Thomas Moses.
Meanwhile, “His Talk, Her Teeth” is a spastic flurry of hardcore-punk sounds and styles that throws any standard sense of structure and timing out the window. Vicious volleys of metallic guitars collide unmercifully with turn-on-a-dime stop/start rhythms that smack headlong into passages of stomping, near Helmet-like rock. It’s a lot to take in at first listen, but There Were Wires delivers it with such pinpoint precision and fierce determination that you can’t help but succumb to the sonic onslaught. The same can be said for the sinister “Get Cryptic,” another blistering scorcher that manages to introduce a nasty bit of rapid-fire, thrash-style hardcore into the band’s volatile canon. Indeed, There Were Wires’ strength seems to lie in the group’s considerable ability to skillfully balance styles and to shift seamlessly from mood to mood without losing continuity or context.
However, it also evident that the band is equally capable of turning out more simple and straightforward songs as shown in the dual instrumentals of “Walking” and “Waking,” which rely predominantly on Begley and Riley’s steady lumbering grooves to maintain their course. Belcastro and Moses use the opportunity to stray away from their admittedly impressive barrage of riffs and rhythms to utilize more ambient and abstract patterns of dissonance and noise. Working in sharp contrast with the more unpredictable elements of the record, the songs provide a welcome relief from the hectic, scattershot feel that informs the rest of the album.
When I think about it, this review had the potential to be entirely pointless. If the music happened to be god-awful, then exposing the flaws and weaknesses would have amounted to beating a dead horse, nothing more than an exercise in futility. Thankfully, the point is moot. Somnambulists is a strong showing from a band that seemed prepared to come into its own. How far these musicians would have gone together and how much they could have developed are impossible questions, but the promise and potential shown here make them intriguing ones. Without a doubt, this is one farewell effort to be proud of.