Making good post-hardcore can be tough. In a genre so nebulous that anything from Fugazi to Pierce The Veil comes under the same banner, it can be hard to make a record that has a distinct identity without coming off as a gimmick or some sort of offshoot genre with more novelty value than anything else. A World Defined have managed to do just that. While not quite so world-view redefining as the grandiose name might suggest, the band has definitely managed to define themselves with their latest EP ‘In Absence’.
The EP is at its heart a Thrice-style take on post-hardcore, throwing in some more rock-ish elements here and there and pushing some strong electronic undertones, but overall not totally inconceivable to anyone familiar with the genre. What makes the EP shine, however, is the attention to detail put in throughout. The songs here make it very clear that A World Defined put a lot of time into working on the fine details of each song – where a certain fill should go, when there should be a more staccato feel etc. – and it really shows when listening closely.
A strong example of this is the opening track ‘June’, which begins with an understated semi-electronic soundscape for a few short seconds and blends seamlessly into a wall of thick guitars and sporadic drums. Throughout the track-list, there is a lot of room devoted to spacious verses and interludes which nicely break up the strong choruses and help to keep the EP from falling into a common mistake of modern post-hardcore, in which there is a little in the way of dynamics besides heavy, heavy and more heavy.
However, where the EP shines it can sometimes do so a little too bright and a little too often – particularly in the vocals. Singer Liam Reeves is clearly very talented at his craft but he unflatteringly shoehorns in his abilities where they would be best left more understated. Far too often there will be unnecessary power put into a line or a portamento delivery which descends into exaggerated cliché. That is not to say anything negative about the man’s singing ability, it just unfortunately sometimes feels like a very good, if not very over-zealous talent show exhibition
Anyone who appreciates songwriting, performing talent or musicianship is likely to enjoy this album a lot. Personally, I was very much engaged with the skill displayed throughout each song, but unfortunately I was quite off put by the tendency to overdo the vocals and and overall sense that the band takes themselves a little too seriously. This of course may not be the case in real life, but their music certainly suggests a grandiose approach to songwriting, which is fine, but perhaps a little less enjoyable as a result. Either way, undoubtedly it’s worth a listen.
‘In Absence’ by A World Defined is released on 24th March.
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Words by Ben Kosma (@BenKosma)