Atropos, Industry Vs. Inferiority (One Wing Records)
With the release of their digital debut, Industry Vs. Inferiority, Knoxville's emo/streetpunk favorites Atropos take a dive into the big pond of postmodern hardcore experimentation. And, for the most part, the album is a smashing success.
Led by the sandpaper-and-cigarette rasp of Knox-punk mainstay Tony Johnson (also the band's guitarist and primary lyricist), Atropos dares to move beyond the limited confines of punk's three-chord blueprint. The album's eight songs feature meticulously constructed rhythms that interweave to form a stark backdrop for Johnson's caterwaul of existential angst.
Though the band's reverence for the down-and-dirty punk sound of bands like Rancid and Ann Beretta is still evident, the songs tend to veer into the more challenging territories pioneered by groups like Hot Water Music, Refused, and, yes, Fugazi. The band is ambitious in its pursuit of new sounds, composing drawn-out pieces that sometimes veer into prog-rock territory.
Atropos' adventurous approach is challenging to say the least. As with all experimentation, there are occasional botched results. Sometimes the songs, which usually clock in at around five minutes, seem too long, too repetitive and lacking in terms of melody.
Hardcore music was not intended to work in the pop marketplace, and Atropos' refusal to adopt hardcore clichés makes them even more difficult. Atropos' music is not pretty. Instead, the band chooses the jagged path—building tension and reflecting internal chaos and uncertainty. Industry Vs. Inferiority is an unsettling, cathartic ride. And it's well worth the effort.