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culture

Sound Advice: By the Strength of the Mighty Atlas, by Harangue

Harangue's debut full-length captures the energy and intelligence of its live show.

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While far from a household name, Harangue is hard to miss if you’re a member of Toronto’s underground aggressive music scene. Its blistering, sharp, and unabashedly clever metallic hardcore has earned it a place on many local hardcore, metal, and punk shows—and the work it puts into refining its sound and aesthetic as a tight and active live band shows through on it debut full-length, By the Strength of the Mighty Atlas. The album marks a significant step forward from the band’s promising 2013 EP Battle Not With Monsters: Harangue has captured an intensity that is at once carefully chained and bound and constantly threatening to escape its musical fetters.

The group’s sound is rooted in a ’90s metallic hardcore aesthetic—but while the churning structures and restless, relentless energy is pure metalcore, the compositions are weirder and the execution more unhinged. There’s a jagged mathcore quality to the way that the riffs are put together, and Michael Kopko’s raw, broken screaming evokes the dangerous near-loss of control that Botch excelled at. Harangue is more than the sum of its parts, stitching together a monstrous hybrid that, while retaining a recognizable shape, is all the more disquieting for its uncanny familiarity.

The best moments of By the Strength of the Mighty Atlas are those when the record threatens to shake itself apart, as it does with the wrenching, ragged riff structures in “The Solidity of a Ghost,” or the anguished vocals of “Familiar Face on a Stranger,” a merciless and exhausting closer. There are also numbers, such as “Empty Mouth,” that recall a more straightforward metalcore approach, providing both respite and a different kind of musical satisfaction. A difficult but deeply enjoyable record, this full-length debut will, we hope, earn the well-deserving band attention from listeners far from Toronto’s live scene.

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