I began listening to Calculator in the hot, humid air of a sunny afternoon.
Certain genres reflect a summer day better than others. The sing-a-long aggression of skate punk and pop punk are the perfect mate to a day walking on hot asphalt. Its anger is tempered by infectious melodies and is almost always of the righteous variety. We’re mad, and well, fuck yeah, we’re mad! But screamo doesn’t like to go outside unless the wind is chill or the ground is frozen. Its cold, distant, and misanthropic and as far away from fun in the sun as it can be. So, as the heat comes and the longboards take over the sidewalk, screamo goes out of season.
Waiting in the hot sun for the bus while abrasive screams and chaotic drums fill my ears only multiplies the dissonance. But, Calculator’s This Will Come To Pass isn’t a bad album despite being an odd match for the weather. The songs boast Touche Amore influence, and for that matter a strong emotional delivery that’s consistent with The Wave and its luminaries. It feels more classical in a lot of ways though. As if Calculator started at square one and from there ended up at a similar place with subtle differences.
Calculator is best when they provide their hardcore bursts with a hook. As is the case with most hardcore, these hooks are more likely to be rhythmic rather than melodic, as in the measured cadence of “Gasping But Somehow Still Alive.” But, Calculator doesn’t exactly shy away from melody either, using ghostly ‘ooo’s’ as background vocals on “Becoming Whisperings.” The lack of strict adherence to form is probably one of my favorite parts of This Will Come To Pass. It actually reminds me a lot of Comadre, a similarly rooted, yet sonically different band that also thrives on experimentation.
“Permanent State of Daylight” is an explosive track that shows off the brutality inherent in Calculator’s sound. Its chaotic as all hell, but still manages to slip in some vocal melody amongst the screams. Further heaviness is also explored in the final track, “Last Breath” which hangs its muscle on a plodding, metallic riff before descending into static feedback. Calculator’s sonic range is something to admire; they have a way of making old sounds vital again through creative, no-limits musicianship. But when the band does fall back on the old cliches, its all the more frustrating. There’s enough emo-arpeggios in here to make you wish the genre wasn’t so sonically homogenous.
Calculator’s music also makes you wish they were as unafraid to dabble in sonic palettes as they are in sonic ideas. At the end of the day, it has the same tones as any other screamo record out there. For a genre so obsessed with emotion, and more so the volcanic expression of, you’d think more bands would try to close the distance between the cold, trebly screeches of their instruments with the raw humanity of their messages.
This Will Come To Pass reminds me that there’s still a snarl at the heart of punk rock. While surely abrasive, the music is packed with enough ideas that it doesn’t just pulverize the listener with a wall of sound. While there’s plenty of exploration to be found, Calculator could have gone even further and written a record that transcended good, and landed squarely on defining. This Will Come To Pass remains an interesting and exciting record though, even if it is late to hibernation.
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