Navies – An Estate

Navies
An Estate

As long as post-hardcore has been available to me, I have been a fan of the genre. To me, it’s what punk rock was in the 70s – a passionate, no-holds-barred, forget-conventions genre of music, emphasis on the passionate. It’s not an especially pretty genre of music – the vocals are raw, the guitars are occasionally ugly, there’s odd time shifts, weird breakdowns, and sometimes even overtly artsy pretentiousness. But one thing’s for sure: if you’re listening to a good post-hardcore band, you’ll take notice. You’ll wonder why the heck that horrible noise was in there, or why they decided to use such a nasty guitar tone, or any number of things the band has done to completely defy logic. These bands aren’t ever getting famous, but they’re happy with who they are.

Although I’ve only heard the An Estate EP from Navies, I’m pretty ready to put the band right up with MeWithoutYou in the ‘my favorite post-hardcore bands’ list. There’s a really simple reason why Navies are so awesome: they permanently sound like they’re on the verge of being torn apart by some outside force pulling them in all directions, and yet they never break. They dance fearlessly on the edge where music becomes just noise. Their vocals consist of a ragged, throaty scream or a more melodic half-yell/half-sing. Their bass is way distorted, their drummer is a spastic machine, and their guitarist sounds like he is torturing his guitar, what with all the screeches, squeals, wails, feedback, and bizarre melodies that come forth.

And when I say bizarre melodies, I mean bizarre. The lead riff on the instrumental “Illegal Flights” sounds like a cat being poked with a hot poker and shrieking about it. The low-end, pulsating, grooving counterpoint sounds like the angry retorts of the man/woman holding the poker. The bizarre beginning of “Wire-up the Jaws” is much the same way. And yet, in all this chaos, they do have moments where they break down into moments of near-silence. They know how to write melodies and create softer aesthetics; they just choose not to most of the time.

The epic here is the nearly eight-minute long “Split Infinitive,” which is a brilliant mess of distortion, guitar squalls, massive drums, and ferocious bass. The guitarist simply goes nuts, pulling sounds out of his guitar that must be simply painful to the ear when played live. The bass and drums move this megalith of sound along, and they do it very nicely. And yet, all the madness dies down a bit to let the passionate vocals come through loud and clear. I’m not really sure what they’re trying to say with “Split Infinitive” (“Washing handfuls of someone’s vibrato / washing handfuls with pink lemonade / I’ve got my finger pressed down on the button / I’m jumping into a pool in the rain), but when the bass riffing comes in, you know that they’re onto something great.

These five songs are violent, they are jagged, they are not pretty in the least, and they are simply astounding in their audacity. Navies captured the sound of tormented passion with An Estate, and in doing so, they have raised the bar on how talented post-hardcore bands have to be to get the A-plus in my book. They have taken the conventions of sound and songwriting and art and simply rewritten them, which results in an astoundingly brilliant release.