Gather Scatter offers some of the best new aggressive music available. Although their sound flirts with noise rock ‘a la Young Widows, Millions share more blood ties with hardcore as they pound out bruising songs bent on destruction. This 8 song debut is a powerful breakthrough album for this Chicago 4 piece.
In recent decades, more and more hardcore bands have moved away from songwriting based on the traditional chord progressions of their predecessors, opting instead for dynamic, often virtuosic riffing marked by loads of syncopation and time changes. These songs string lots of riffs and parts into one aggressive, dissonant sonic beating. This style arguably peaked in the mid and late 1990’s, reaching the pinnacle with The Dillinger Escapes Plan’s breakthrough album Calculating Infinity.
Millions combine that blistering, thrash-inspired sound of late 1990’s East Coast hardcore with mid-90’s noise rock from the Midwest embodied in The Jesus Lizard. But this new Chicago band is sonically more maniacal than The Jesus Lizard and less virtuosic than Dillinger. And, for fans of aggressive hardcore, Millions might be more accessible than both those bands.
Millions’ website claims their sound is driven by the tension between the the two guitars. Agreed. But they are also endowed with a strong vocalist who has a knack for timing and cadence. His throaty roars and occasional suppressed singing are real contributions; lots of hardcore vocalists treat their craft as if they were painting by numbers. Millions’ “Life is Satisfactory” shows how it’s done. Amid rolling drums and embattled guitars, shouts add emotional fuel to the fire before the song starts hitting groove after groove, gifting listeners with a series of head nodding spells.
The rhythm section threatens time and again to steal the spotlight–just listen to closing track “We Make Poor Decisions” for proof. Here, the dissonant guitars take a back seat to sharp bass riffing and syncopated, irregular beats. “View From a Sinking Ship” is Gather Scatter‘s earliest highlight. Starting off with some high end riffing, this track segues into more traditional chord progressions. The pace never reaches breakneck speeds, but the track is certainly no less brutal.
“View From a Sinking Ship” and the following track, “Saddle Up and Ride”, demonstrate Millions’ best asset–good songwriting. This means that they can weave riffs and variations and changes into cohesive, fluid songs. These don’t sound like cut and paste jobs; their songwriting also excels in combining some of the traditional sounds of hardcore with the progressive tendencies of noise rock.
This attention to flow without compromising the music’s emotional dynamics makes the listening experience better. When listeners are less distracted by the changes, they can devote more attention to the music’s expressive, even artistic qualities. Gather Scatter isn’t laboriously complicated or mathy for math’s sake–it just delivers powerful music from talented musicians.