Album Review: Frontierer – Unloved


Label: Self-Released

Release Date: July 27th 2018

Genre: Mathcore

Are you tired of songs featuring catchy hooks and singalong melodies? Bored of music providing a calm, relaxing state after a busy day of work? Do you long for a band who assault your ears in a way you couldn’t even imagine possible? Then look no further; Frontierer are the band for you.

Graduating from whatever psychotic school produced the likes of Car Bomb and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Frontierer’s noise is truly difficult to digest. Whether you feel their sound resembles a glitchy remix of a controlled demolition, a drop-tuned guitar run through a fax machine, or even an orchestra of fireworks and bean bag guns launched in the listener’s direction, Frontierer are creating challenging pieces that do not provide a comfortable listen. Much like previous innovators Meshuggah or The Dillinger Escape Plan, the band have set out to challenge what can be classified as music, and while their releases may be divisive, they have certainly achieved their goal.

Unloved is the second full length release from the Scottish band, produced by the band’s guitarist and chief songwriter Pedram Valiani. With guitars tuned to drop F (and the higher strings tuned a semitone apart; lovely), the instruments take on a more percussive than melodic quality, and partnered with a barrage of pounding drums (and Valiani’s fantastic production), the album is nearly absent of melody. This alone can be seen as a challenge to mainstream listeners, something that has been previously tested before by the likes of Meshuggah. Whereas the Swedish math-heads were focused on creating confusing and hypnotic rhythms, Frontierer’s approach is a lot more aggressive, as if they want to destroy the listener’s ears. When the guitarists aren’t digging away at their low F strings, screechy bursts of dissonance cut through, providing a harsh contrast to the relentless bombardment of rhythm. Of course the vocals are distorted as well (would you expect anything less?), and are pushed further back in the mix. Whereas most contemporary music would place the vocals at the forefront to attract the audience’s focus, Frontierer have challenged the listener further by almost hiding the familiar element of the band.

The first six songs maintain the intensity described above. Opening track and first single ‘Tumoric’ perfectly showcases the band’s yo-yoing from percussive attacks to shrill glitches, almost as if to deter the fainthearted from venturing further. It isn’t until ‘Heartless 101’ – track 6 – that we’re given breathing room. Opening with clean vocals and instrumentation that wouldn’t be amiss on a Linkin Park album, the song retains a slower, more manageable tempo, even when the familiar assault of noise returns. ‘Electric Gag’ is similarly mid-tempo, even displaying moments of groove, but it isn’t long before normality resumes and chaos ensues.

Despite what may seem as an unlistenable release, Unloved is a fantastic achievement. The band have created a unique and innovative sound, indifferent to writing pieces that would grant them a wider audience, and focussed on taking aggressive music to a new level. If you’re familiar with non-metal fans telling you “it just sounds like noise!”, have fun showing them Frontierer; Slipknot will sound heavenly in comparison.

Recommended Track: Bombgnasher


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