REVIEW: OLAM – “I Will Guide Thy Hand”

olam

Cut from the same cloth as metalcore mainstays Converge, and chaotic post-hardcore practitioners Loma Prieta, OLAM’s brand of hardcore is dynamic, violent and cathartic. On their debut recording, I Will Guide Thy Hand, this Indianapolis trio deliver ten tracks of intricate, shape-shifting metallic hardcore that respectfully nods to its predecessors, but also reaches towards something beyond.

The band lull the listener into a false sense of security on the dreamy opener, “Vestal,” and then fully wreak havoc on “Wounds.” The track’s razor sharp, melodic riffs, venomous, shrieking vocals, and staggering rhythmic shifts immediately showcase OLAM’s strengths and sets the stage for what’s to come. The following track, “Beth, The Birds, The Grip,” keeps the dizzying momentum going with its spiraling, six-string acrobatics, emotionally charged breaks, and off-kilter grooves. This blend of emotive buildups and meticulously crafted insanity runs a thread throughout this tumultuous record and leaves listeners little room to breathe.

In addition to its post-hardcore frenzies, I Will Guide Thy Hand offers a few compositional surprises during its second half. The dense rhythmic chug and abstract noise bombardment of “Bloodletting” is a head-turning addition to the record. The doomed acoustic bridge featured in “Razorblades as Neckties” is jarring, yet well-placed, and helps the tune stand out among the rest. The album’s seven-minute title track is also worth noting for its flawless stylistic shifts, towering instrumentation, and anthemic conclusion.

I Will Guide Thy Hand doesn’t exactly break the mold or push this particular genre forward, but there are glimpses, particularly in the second half, of a band wanting to be more than the sum of their parts. Hopefully, OLAM will take more stylistic risks in the future. Regardless, I Will Guide Thy Hand is a solid, blood-pumping hardcore record that will satiate lovers of the riff.

Rating: 7/10
Release Date: March 28, 2019
Label: Self-released
Favorite Tracks: “Wounds,” “Beth, The Birds, The Grip,” “Ventriloquism,” “Razorblades as Neckties,” and “I Will Guide Thy Hand”
For Fans Of: Converge, Loma Prieta, and Oathbreaker

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