Incendiary Pose a Challenge on 'Change the Way You Think About Pain'
Published May 25, 2023Long Island has seen a steady output of influential heavy bands over the last few decades, Incendiary being one of which you could throw into that category. The metallic hardcore group have surpassed the 10th anniversary of their sophomore LP Cost of Living, an album that proved they were going to be a force for the coming years.
Known for their punishing riffs and introspective and politically charged lyrics, Incendiary have always taken their time as they approach new music. Six years have passed since the release of their third album, Thousand Mile Stare; and while they've had significant longevity for a hardcore band, they feel they still have more to give. Their latest, Change the Way You Think About Pain, proves that, and will remind fans why they're still so relevant and highly regarded.
The band partnered with past collaborator Will Putney to engineer, mix, and master the album, as he did on Thousand Mile Stare; a wise decision, as the new record's sound is both familiar and adventurous. Guitarists Brian Audley and Rob Nobile's crunchy and distorted riffs, along with Dan Lomeli's pulverizing drums, are somehow even more grand, with breakdowns hitting harder and more fiercely. Vocalist Brendan Garrone does his part as well, delivering his lyrics with a harnessed rage, and an almost hip-hop cadence at times.
When they're at their best, Incendiary build songs that have more peaks than valleys, with verses and choruses that boast powerful palm-muted progressions, picked precisely and with agility, leading to an even more devastating conclusion. Lead single "Bite the Hook'' is an example of what makes them click; no pun intended, but the chorus of "Bite the Hook" may feature one of the best hooks on the album, with a call and response from Garrone and the collective gang vocals, before a catastrophic breakdown that sets the tone for the rest of the album. "Host/Parasite" stands out as well, in part thanks to the driving double-kick in the verses, and another colossal breakdown that serves as the perfect exclamation point to end the track.
And while the musicianship is enough to satisfy fans who live to mosh and cold-cock their pals in the pit, Incendiary — and specifically Garrone — continue to set themselves apart from their peers with their nuanced and thought-provoking lyrics. Cost of Living and Thousand Mile Stare's themes looked to challenge the status quo, and expose the hypocrisy of American politics, themes that have only become more significant in the six years since their last release.
"Echo of Nothing" exposes the falsehoods of the American dream, telling a story of refugees seeking freedom from their own oppressive governments, only to be met with hatred and more oppression upon their arrival. Garrone's chorus purports, "All quiet on the western front / While they cry for help in the eastern mud / Refusing calls to deliver aid / Because the waving flag is a different shade." Similar sentiments come through on "Lie of Liberty," where the chants of "Kneel before your coiled snake" identifies an expectation to accept the country as a model nation, even when it fails to protect the basic human rights and freedoms of its citizens.
Along with the more global perspective, Garrone examines the impact on the self. The opening call of "Mind melting, drip by drip" on "CTE" sets the tone for a track that unpacks the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that external wrongdoings affect the psyche and mental health of individuals. With songs like "Echo of Nothing" and "Rats in the Cellar," likely birthed in and around the pandemic, Garrone's lyrics feel condemning and empathetic — critical of those in power and mindful of those who are negatively impacted as a result. The album's title serves as a call to action — not just in the sense of social justice, but in regard to self-realization. Simply ignoring the issues and turning off the news doesn't mean those concerns go away, and Garrone challenges listeners to really sit with these concepts and think about their impact personally and globally.
Ultimately, Incendiary have put forth another effort that is indicative of what makes them so great — a record that is heavy as hell, that also forces listeners to reflect on the world around them and understand the ripple effect their decisions have on the world at large. As they put succinctly in "Bite the Hook" — "Look into the mirror / Meet the one you blame." (Closed Casket Activities)