PICK OF THE WEEK: UK hardcore crushers Ithaca plaster heart over fiery ‘Language of Injury’

Letting another human being  get close to you is a risk many people take and end up paying for in the end. As many happy people as there are in romantic relationships and friendships, there are just as many suffering from the effects of a bad union, one that has grown dangerous and poisonous. It’s enough to make one want to stay away from others forever.

UK-based metallic hardcore band Ithaca dig right into the heart of that matter on their devastating debut album “The Language of Injury.” These 10 songs spread over 31 minutes dig into heartbreak and the deep emotional scarring one can sustain when putting your faith in someone only to have them dig the knife into your back or simply just turn from you and leave you in the dark. The pain and disappointment are conveyed into thunderous, emotionally punishing songs delivered by this awesome band. Out front is vocalist Djamilia Azzouz, whose forceful shouts and growls dig right into your heart and soul and make you feel every ounce of her suffering. Aside from what the band does on this record, Ithaca also have been one of the underground champions of gender issues, ethnic diversity, and sexual identity, giving us yet another crushing band whose hearts are in righteous places.

“New Covenant” begins with feedback awakening, drums crushing the walls, and the guitars taking very Kurt Ballou-style bends toward your face. Azzouz is a force right away, as her harsh wails plaster, at one point crying, “Where did we go?” before the music eases, as do her words, and the band drops the hammer down. “Impulse Crush” races away, with the guitars spiraling and the vocals absolutely shredding. Groups shouts color the chorus before the track leans into some sludgy bits, the riffs stab, and we’re off to a pit of chaos. “Secret Space” chugs hard before pulling back a bit as the guitar jab away. Azzouz’s cries smear soot over the song, while emotional melodies cascade, the guitars splatter, and we come to a fiery end. “Slow Negative Order” starts off tricky and mathy, with deep growls emitted, Azzouz singing clean in parts, and the track going for the jugular otherwise. The band keeps aiming to crush bones before reaching an agitated end. “(No Translation)” is a quick instrumental piece built with quiet, somber guitars, crowd noises murmuring, and a pall cast over the scene.

The title track follows, sweltering and pounding, with Azzouz’s vocals delivering the emotional toll. Clean guitars slide into the mix before devastation lands again, and pieces are sent hurtling. The song eases a bit from a heaviness standpoint, as clean singing shines over the din before the power returns, and the song comes to a crash landing. “CLSR.” begins on a calm note before that’s torn apart, and the band thrashes heavily. Melody intertwines with punishment, as Azzouz cries, “Get closer!”  before a smudgy breakdown sends the track into a trickling finish. “Youth vs. Wisdom” is fiery as hell as it kicks off, with the vocals sounding like they’re splitting Azzouz’s throat and disruptive hammering breaking bones. The vocals continue to peel paint from the walls, with the band ending everything in hardcore skullduggery. “Gilt” has guitars swelling, gruff howls from Azzouz, and even smoother singing over the harsh verses. “We put each other in the ground!” Azzouz wails as the track ends in a pile of dust. “Better Abuse” closes the album with an extended exploratory section that leads you into the fog before the track explodes, with punishing playing and scraping screams. The track then eases up the tempo, as strings and horns slide into the room, bringing your emotions to a burst. Then there’s a wrenching eruption, pouring all of themselves into a chasm, and a whipping wind picks up and swallows the track whole.

This first full blast from Ithaca more than lives up to our expectations that we had coming in, and “The Language of Injury” is going to be viewed as one of the more progressive and exciting hardcore records that arrive in 2019. Hopefully those who have been through similar circumstances can find a voice in Ithaca, who know where they’ve been and how to push forward. This is a record that revels in pain, but when it’s over, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away empowered and ready to face your wounds head on.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/IthacaUK/

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://deathwishinc.com/collections/holy-roar

Or here: http://www.holyroarrecords.com/store

For more on the label, go here: http://www.holyroarrecords.com/

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