It's almost surreal to think that it's almost been four months since the metallic hardcore bruisers in Ithaca released their full length debut The Language Of Injury. Released via Holy Roar, the record is still a highly celebrated staple within the national scene, with many attempting to decipher the meaning behind the tracks. Here, the band breaks down the stories and details behind each track on the record.
This is actually the first song we wrote for this album and it’s very much about letting go of the past and starting again. The name ’New Covenant’ comes from feeling like we’re reshaping ourselves into something new and starting a new family for ourselves. It’s only fitting that it’s the beginning of the album and really, the beginning of the story. Where did we go? I realised that I had lost myself and I’m questioning the people responsible. What would you know? It’s an accusation but the question is rhetorical, I already know the answer.
There are so many theories behind the meaning of this song, and I love hearing everyone’s different interpretations. There are lines in here that are almost double-entendres and I’ve always loved being able to do that. This song is antagonising and it’s a declaration of truth. The realisation that you wasted years trying to help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves, and that they’ve damaged you in the process. But you’re trying to finally give them a wake-up call - this is their last chance. ‘Impulse Crush’ describes the feeling of willingly destroying yourself, not being able to help it. Both you and the person you’re trying to save. The riffs on this track are punishing and relentless, they give you a headache. That’s what we wanted.
The drum intro of this song really shaped how it came about, we really just wanted it to come out of nowhere. We love misdirects, lulling you into a fall sense of security. It’s almost Converge ‘Dark Horse’-esque but more fragmented. There are guitar sections here that are almost black metal too and have a melodic thread that runs through that I find so moving. Lyrically, I’m looking back and realising that memories I cherish are ultimately a lie and questioning everything. ‘Please tell me was it fear that kept you here or was it just commiseration?’ I think everyone can relate to not feeling good enough. I’ve felt that way most of my life but there was someone who made me feel this more than anyone else, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive them for that.
'Slow Negative Order'
‘Slow Negative Order’ is about rebirth and revenge. When we were writing the demos for this album, this was the first song I tried the clean vocals on. It worked immediately and we knew we had to use it. We get a lot of Oathbreaker comparisons because of this track, but when we wrote this I was obsessed with the Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas Mariner album and was listening to loads of Kate Bush. I just wanted that level of rawness and an unpolished edge.
We never wanted to follow the standard format of having an instrumental interlude just plonked in the middle, but we really did feel like there needed to be some sort of reprieve from all the chaos and a transition to the second half of the album. We’ve always been big fans of call and response and planting little Easter eggs in different songs, of certain riffs or passages that hearken to each other. It takes you on a journey and it makes it seem whole. I love this interlude so much, the layering of elements and the way it feels so roomy. You can hear talking over the top, but it feels so lonely.
'The Language Of Injury'
This is the title track and probably the most emotional track on the album for me. It encapsulates the feelings driving the album - loss, desperation, frustration. Self-loathing. Abandonment. It’s all really about communication. Talking but not listening. How words carry weight and value but can also mean nothing at all. What’s said, but more importantly what isn’t said. It’s the l’esprit de l'escalier or ‘the spirit of the stairwell.’ Everything you wish you’d said. I wrote this as my relationship collapsed around me and I think you can feel that.
This song is about dealing with the aftermath of betrayal. Letting them know that it’s over. ‘You are the raindrops on the glaze, but I don’t cry much these days. You are the mist before the dawn but I don’t wake up early anymore’. It’s over.
'Youth Vs Wisdom'
When we wrote this song, we sat down and were like oh fuck okay this is an actual hardcore song. It’s a definite change of pace, it’s unrelenting and furious and unforgiving. At the time of writing I had a running joke with some friends about the huge amount of shitty reality/competition TV shows we were watching, and ‘I’m not here to make friends’ was the immortal line someone would say on the show that it made them look like such a dick. We’d say it to each other all the time. I was like yeah, that’s the most hardcore sounding thing I’ve ever heard, that’s what the hook of this song is going to be. Despite it coming from a dumb joke it works. It’s a statement of intent.
‘Gilt’ is the most ‘melodic hardcore’ sounding song on the album in my opinion. This song is about mutual destruction. The name is a play on the word ‘guilt’ and it’s literal meaning - covered in gold.
‘Better Abuse’ is the feeling of doing something you know is harmful and doing it anyway. That feeling of knowing that you’re suffering but being unable to let go. We all know how this feels. Being with someone you know is hurting you, I did that. I still can’t listen to this song on my own without feeling that pain. It’s totally punishing to listen to, and we did a number of interesting things in terms of layering it to create this tapestry of sound that’s deeply unsettling. It’s claustrophobic and the perfect closer to the album. We didn’t want to finish on a high note or a resolution or happy ending, because there isn’t one.
The Language Of Injury is out now via Holy Roar Records.