Don’t you dare make an All Time Low joke…
It’s a pretty awesome time for Minneapolis music right now. Especially in the hardcore/metal/punk weird scene. You have Sunless making dissonant mind melting music, you have Naïve Sense making lo-fi screamo stuff, you have Wanderer playing metallic chaotic hardcore, you have Triple Crossed playing posi-hardcore (they opened for Bane, ever heard of em?), and you have Aziza playing a nasty mix of sludge and hardcore. I am probably forgetting tons of bands, but that just goes to show that contrary to popular belief, the scene might not be dead here in Minneapolis.
I had the pleasure of seeing Aziza last summer at a venue called “The Toilet Store”, a now defunct (I think?) punk house that had a basement the size of a studio apartment. I may have had a few PBR’s but they blew me away. They played riff-centric sludge hardcore that made me book a chiropractor appointment the next day. Their new album “High Hopes are at an All Time Low” continues this crusade of metallic sludge hardcore hybrid salad.
Aziza sounds best when they ride out a riff and reprise it. Songs such as “Bell Ringer” is in album highlight for that reason. Feeding in with feedback, then launching into a palm muted monster riff underneath Aziza’s unique duel vocal layered approach, it perfectly encapsulates the best of what Aziza can do. “Mana Razor” sounds like something lifted straight off of Botch – We are the Romans (especially the song Mondrian Was a Liar), and if you can be held in the same sentence as Botch, that’s awesome company to be in.
The album closes off with “Monuments to Compromise”, a song that is a little more sludge than hardcore, a little more classic death metal (maybe it’s the vocals, maybe I’ve been listening to too much Bolt Thrower), but it’s such a good display of how Aziza can ride a riff. Dropping drum beats in and out and letting the guitar production shine through. The only way this album could sound better is if Kurt Ballou himself got his hands on this, which they should probably do for their next release. “Monuments…” then fades out with 30 seconds of distorted noise and guitar effects. Subtle nuances such as that make this album flow extremely well, and make each song a cohesive part of the album.
Vocally grating, Aziza makes noises that few bands these days are capable of. Their influences are clear (Botch, Coalesce, Converge, Black Sabbath maybe?), but they do a good job of being innovated with their influences, not rip them off. Play this album LOUD.
by Andy Wilcox (@wilco204)