For Fans Of
Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Who in the dickens is Icantdie and why the fuck should I care about them, Alex?’, I hear you say. Well, I think you should care about them because this fresh out of the oven, new-age hardcore/punk band has one immensely satisfying EP on their hands!
With their debut release, ‘Transition/Merger’, South Wales outfit Icantdie (as in I Can’t Die) make a whole lot of noise for just three dudes. Mixed by Gavin Burrough of the now (sadly) disbanded Funeral For A Friend, the EP’s punchy and clean mix does wonders for this band’s albeit simple, but superbly tight, aggressive sound. But for all of their chaotic musical tendencies, if you had only listened to the EP’s first song, ‘Transition’ and hit ‘stop’ you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
Sombre guitar chords underpin eerie feedback in this first song as singer/guitarist Kyle Smith builds from soft, delicate singing into throaty screams that raw with passion as the guitars rise and fall with him. All of this happens without any deep, churning bass lines or pumping drums to back up this minimal instrumentation. This rather low-key introduction to the release and the band as a whole is an odd, unexpected move I must say, but one that pays off because it puts you on the edge of your seat for what comes next…
Kicking things right up to 10 is the three and a half minute rager that is the band’s debut single, ‘Merger’. It’s like Beartooth meets post-2012 Funeral For A Friend and it is fucking killer. It’s here that you get the real gritty meat and sweet, sweet potatoes of Icantdie; snappy drums, harsh screaming, and thrashy, rambunctious guitar riffs mixed in with that gloomy, melancholic tonality that U.K. alternative/punk bands unmistakably carry with them. (see: Heights, early Architects, While She Sleeps, Your Demise, and Dead Swans for that last reference).
Once ‘Merger’ winds down through its crushing, balls-out heavy outro, the emotionally charged ‘Charlie Kelly’ follows suit. Seriously, this a ripper of a tune and a big standout track. The final minute of this song alone is a great example of the band’s affinity for combining sharp, rhythmic guitar riffs, foreboding minor melodies, and honest lyrics delivered through throaty growls for grand, spine-tingling sonic moments. For real, it’s been a long damn time since the hair on the back of my neck stood up like it did when I first heard this song.
Now, if you’ll indulge me for a minute, one of my all time favourite albums is ‘Believers‘ by the now defunct Caesars Rome, a terrific act in their own right. That record is a truly epic wall of sound, has no filler, and has a near perfect mix to boot. Hence my “perfect score” review of it back in 2014. I mention that band because Icantdie’s Kyle Smith and bassist Lloyd Griffiths used to play in Caesars Rome, hence how I was able to find out about this new band from the ground level. That knack for powerful songwriting, for creating huge soundscapes driven by punchy drumming and monolithic guitar melodies is definitely evident in this EP. But I find it is perhaps best shown in the final track, ‘Golgothan’. (Yes, as in that Golgothan from the bitchin’ Kevin Smith movie, Dogma).
Excrement demon references aside, ‘Golgothan‘ does not take after its namesake; a giant steaming pile of shite. What is arguably the fastest and heaviest song of the bunch transitions effortlessly into an epic finale, filled with superb tremolo guitars and direct screams that hit hard! In fact, it was about this point in my thought process, and after multiple listens through this EP, that I deduced that the age-old axiom of ‘quality over quantity’ has rarely rung as true as it does here.
Icantdie aren’t doing anything new for alternative/punk music but sweet baby Jesus, they are doing some damn good things here without having to revolutionize heavy music. ‘Transition/Merger’, like all great, satisfying EP’s, leaves you wanting so much more and perfectly fills the time until the band’s next release, or until you see the band play live. Whichever one comes first.
3. Charlie Kelly
Grab your own copy of ‘Transition/Merger’ here and join the cool kids club.