REVIEW: Outright – Avalanche
By Ryan Sim
From the outset, Outright make their aims clear. ‘Troubled’ opens with a threat – raw, naked guitar that seems to say, “Here we are, this is what we look like, get on board or get out of the way.”
The song is pummeling, and every aspect is so strong in its delivery, there really isn’t any need to dig deeper. But Outright’s aggression and their energy is compelling in a way that reminds me of listening to Converge’s Axe To Fall for the first time. Avalanche is similar, if only in the fact that it is entirely unrelenting. There’s pain and catharsis here, often simultaneous, that made me want to dig deeper.
There seems to be a fatal disconnect between public discussions about social justice issues, and the actual problems – the occurrences of violation and violence (physical, verbal or political). The issues in question tend to be simplified, reduced, or distorted under a shroud called “political correctness.” Transpose this onto bands and any hope for resonant music, more often than not, is lost.
Often, it comes off as a play to garner support, with the band leaning on slogans, and seeming more concerned with appearing to be doing and saying, the “right” things. Outright, a self-proclaimed and outspokenly political band, manage to avoid all of this, and Avalanche destroys that disconnect.
’A City Silent’ reduced me to tears upon first listen, due to my own family’s experience dealing with domestic violence and drug abuse. But the reason it hit me so heavy is probably because it wasn’t written for me. All of the songs on Avalanche come from such a specific and personal place, that when they do strike a nerve in the listener, they strike hard – the chance that someone else experienced that very same feeling you did is as brutal as that fucking bass tone. Even the more anthemic songs with wider reaching themes (‘Iron String’, ‘Rapture’) work, simply because they’re delivered with this idiosyncratic rage that belongs to Outright alone.
In particular, ‘The Collapse’ stands out due to its subject matter. In the current century, living in a city in a fully developed, Western country, you need to be specifically looking to come into contact with death itself, or else be very unlucky. The song recounts events that Goluza witnessed in March of in 2013, when an inner-city wall collapsed and three people died. The song takes stock of the fleeting nature of life while simultaneously working through the internal stress and horror that came after being a part of the tragedy.
The way all the elements on this song work together to create this representation that is honestly fearful yet defiant, completely heartbreaking but also full of fury, is a good placeholder for what the album does as a whole.
Avalanche has a sound that is immediately recognizable. Throughout the record, I can intermittently hear the influence of early Terror, Mindsnare, and Most Precious Blood, amongst others. But, just like Jelena Goluza’s words, these influences have clearly been informed and shaped through experience, and at the same time no attempt has been made to hide them.
They’ve taken this sound from anyone else who might try to label it differently, and there is no doubt who owns it now. This is hardcore, but it’s hardcore the way Outright want it to sound.
Avalanche is out now through Reason and Rage Records. You can stream and download at the band’s Bandcamp and purchase the vinyl here. Keep up with Outright at their Facebook page and catch them on their LP release tour. Ryan Sim currently plays guitar in Marathon and plays guitar and sings in Low Season.
AOTY definitely. Check it out.