The Long Goodbye

BY Connor AtkinsonPublished Jan 3, 2020

There's an unwritten history in California hardcore of strong releases followed by unaddressed absences. Harness, What's Good, Skinfather — the list goes and goes, and I for one am still holding out for the unreleased infamous Soul Search LP to come to fruition. Downpresser is a name one would have included on that list; however, the California crushers have broken their silence with a followup to 2013's Don't Need a Reason, a considerable effort, given over six years of laborious patience from all parties involved.
They say hindsight is 20/20. As such, music listeners often reflect on trends in a decade-spanning lens. This is certainly true within outsider music, but complicated by how expedited trends and sub-genre seasonings migrate within hardcore music. Thankfully, Downpresser's Troycore-esque fury is still present, the vocals angrier and the guitar licks have burned from orange to outright blue. On first single "Death Instinct," producer Taylor Young's mix is at its best — loose and loud. His sound effectively showcases the band's no-frills approach to great pit music— present and altogether, but full of enticing rough-around-the-edges grit. It is uncertain whether The Long Goodbye alludes to this being the last Downpresser release, but if it is, they are choosing to depart without taking any prisoners.
Music this heavy rarely strays from the formula, and sure, Downpresser are not exactly one to take risks. Not to say The Long Goodbye doesn't expand their palette, though. "Two Stood Last (See You Around)" finds the group incorporating melodic vocal styling à la Life of Agony and Crowbar, with juicy guitar parts that nearly act as a homage to everything exciting about California groups of the early decade — Harness and Twitching Tongues particularly come to mind. The following track, "Eyes to Heaven," is the strongest moment of the tracklist, infectious with gang vocal work and intact song structure.
The 2010s survived nu-metal detours, shoegaze'ish grunge flavours and metalcore boredom. For Downpresser not to release music for over a half-decade — not to mention unveiling it on the last release day of the decade — is a risk. When they reach "Turn the Screw" and "Crisis of Faith," they solidify this LP as a fumingly successful output; a modern equivalent to Declination of Independence-era Cold as Life. The Long Goodbye is the strongest and most consistent Downpresser release; it panders to no trite moment in hardcore's succession.
(Closed Casket Activities)

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