Review: Loma Prieta – I.V. (2012)

If you’re unfamiliar with Loma Prieta (like I was a few short months ago) this is their 4th full length, first with Deathwish Inc.  If you’re unfamiliar with Deathwish, it’s run by Converge frontman Jacob Bannon, and whether you like the bands on the label or not, Deathwish is not known to waste time with anything less than fast, ferocious, destructive, or poignant.  Most of their bands embody each of these characteristics and this includes one of their latest additions.

Loma Prieta is from the Envy school of screamo adding a bit of powerviolence to create fast, dirty, metallic punk rock.  Probably the most well-known band, simply because of their (alleged) all-star lineup, to attempt to tackle this style is United Nations, but Loma Prieta never utilizes clean vocals in their songs.  Instead they always scream their lyrics which often cover the socio-political underbelly of California making them more akin to other socially conscious Cali bands like A Light in the Attic and Takaru.

Not straying too far from the production value of prior releases, Loma Prieta aim to capture their live performance onto tape (or ProTools, whatever).  It’s overdriven and noisy complete with feedback between the start and stop crunchy walls of sound.  What Loma Prieta have excelled at on past records is their sparse use of melodic guitars and I.V. is no different.  Unfortunately, the band blows their load early by putting almost every ounce of melody on I.V. at the end of the opening track, “Fly by Night.”  We don’t hear any again until the tenth track “Aside from This Distant Shadow, There is Nothing Left” and a little bit more on the following track, “Biography.”  Although, on “Aside…” the melody is perfectly executed with the layering of heavily distorted driving bass.

Along with fast paced punk rock and elements of grind, Loma Prieta also experiment with traditional hardcore techniques such as the repeated “I will never change” chants at the end of “Uniform” and some tom heavy breakdowns that would send any NYHC kid into the middle of the floor to look for spare change.  On “Trilogy 6 ‘Forgetting’” during one of these old school hardcore sections, Loma Prieta purposely overdrive the recording even further to either give the single part they don’t change after 15 seconds a little variance (sorry, this is hyperbole, but the riffs do change quickly and often) or to prove to the listener that the dirty production is on purpose showing they could have gone noisier.

Sometimes the record is too married to the caustic live ideal.  The mix is a bit muddy at times and that can end up burying something like the underlying guitar on “Trilogy 5 ‘Half Cross’” which is a good sounding idea, but you really have to strain your ears to hear it.  Where the record also falters is that there just isn’t much discrepancy between the songs.  That, and the record doesn’t show Loma Prieta progressing as I.V. sounds a lot like previous releases.  However, I will admit, sometimes that’s not such a horrible thing.  Just ask anyone who wasn’t introduced to metal/hardcore by Jamey Jasta about how they’re still waiting for Calculating Infinity Part 2.  In any case, Loma Prieta are definitely the good guys you want to root for.  I once watched them go through 4 haggard guitars and ended up having to play on eight strings between 2 guitar players just to appease the crowd’s request of “one more song.”  These guys play good, honest, heavy, emotional, punk rock.  I would just like to hear them progress a little bit more.

Rating: 6.2/10

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