When I first heard that SeeYouSpaceCowboy were releasing a split EP with If I Die First, my heart sank. Because while I love the former to death, finding them to be one of the new metalcore greats, I simply cannot stand the latter. SeeYouSpaceCowboy represents the stronger side of the 2000’s metalcore revival wave crashing over lately with their solid label debut and fantastic debut full-length in 2019. Whereas to me, If I Die First represented the weakest kind of nasally, whiny emo-post-hardcore resurgence also taking root nowadays with their woeful 2020 EP, ‘My Poison Arms.’ Outside of really appreciating hearing more of guitarist and screamer Travis Richter (FFTL, Color Of Violence, The Human Abstract), and the musical variety of Lil Lotus as an artist, a fan of this newish band I was not. However, due to this split, I’ve actually come around on If I Die First.
Before we get into that, for context about the five songs off ‘A Sure Disaster,’ SYSC and IIDF get two brand new songs each and one very cool team-up collab track. Let’s first look at this split release’s moment of convergence between both artists, ‘bloodstainedeyes.’ Honestly, this song is some of the most intense 2005-2006 sounding shit I’ve heard since, well, 2005 and 2006. (Excusing that new For Your Health record, obviously; that thing fucks.)
‘bloodstainedeyes‘ – from where the title of this split gets its name from – is the longest track at about five minutes long, but feels like it flies by in mere seconds: it’s that engaging. It’s a stellar example of how bands in these genres can pull off a genuine collaboration: showcasing what both bands do and complementing one another perfectly. The last full collab that did exactly this was 2020’s surprising Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle shared LP. The more melodic, singing-driven post-hardcore of IIDF bleeds over the discordant, sassy metalcore of SYSC like a match made in scene heaven. Lotus‘ screams move around Connie Sgarbossa’s feral vocals brilliantly, and when Lotus‘ screams and cleans intertwine with those of bandmate Lil Zubin, it’s some solid top Myscape-era stuff. Between the multiple passages of a piano-laden bridge, ear-worming chorus, sasscore verses, maelstrom of screams during the intro, and the quintessential panicked metalcore breakdown send-off, ‘bloodstainedeyes‘ is inarguably one of the sweetest songs to come out of metalcore and post-hardcore all damn year.
Now let’s get to the two songs each band adds to this split, starting with SYSC.
‘Painting A Clear Picture From A Unreliable Narrator’ has cheeky hand-claps, Connie’s searing high-pitched screams and dead-pan talking, well-worn metalcore chord progressions, familiar but fun dun-dun breakdowns, and some of the erratic tempo and rhythm-shifting mathcore that bubble under the surface of their songwriting. It introduces a bigger emphasis on singing for SYSC’s sound, and I’m here for it, as it’s implemented tastefully and doesn’t feel phoned in. (Would love to see them develop that singing element deeper on future releases.) Then there’s the brief, jumpy and dissonant ‘Modernizing The Myth Of Sisyphus‘ – as in the Greek myth of Sisyphus, punished for cheating death by being forced to roll a boulder up a hill only for it to roll down, for eternity – which is never laborious but excited and fired up. Sasscore is alive and well, and it’s got more breakdowns than ever. Both songs are a great blend of all previous SYSC material, and I’m so interested to see how they’ll grow moving forward.
Cool, onto If I Die First. First off, ‘My Nightmares Would Do Numbers As Horror Movies’ is their best song. I love this sucker! It has a slightly melancholic emo-rap edge with its electro hi-hat beat and solemn guitar riff kicking things off. But like a sudden volcanic eruption, the band then leap forward with urgency as busy instrumentals and hooky melodies coalesce together at a brisk pace. ‘My Nightmares…’ is the first song of theirs I’ve gotten into and that extends to the other track, ‘Mirror, Mirror This Is Nothing Like You Promised.’ By far the heaviest, most aggressive song IIDF have released in their short lifespan as a unit, sounding like a throwback to the better tunes from A Skylit Drive and blessthefall, it races from screaming chugging breakdowns over to harmonic, uplifting choruses with grace. My change of heart on them isn’t to say I suddenly like their previous works – I don’t – but now I understand what others saw in them. And I’m happy to be on board.
‘A Sure Disaster’ is a smaller-scaled release and it ain’t ground-breaking, yet it’s a damn fine example of how to do a split release within the shared realms of mathcore, metalcore, hardcore and post-hardcore. Allow time for each band to share new material that sees them growing their respective talents, and then have a feature collaboration between the two artists, complementing and blending their sounds together to make something greater than the sum of its whole. Thoughtfully and lovingly informed by the genres storied past, SeeYouSpaceCowboy are one of the few bands leading the future of metalcore currently, and If I Die First have significantly stepped up, coming into their own and finally winning me over. Just make sure that if you watch or listen to anything off of this split on YouTube, that you drop the quality down to 144p to really get that compressed, blurry mid-2000s aesthetic.
Painting A Clear Picture From A Unreliable Narrator
Modernizing The Myth Of Sisyphus
Mirror, Mirror This Is Nothing Like You Promised
My Nightmares Would Do Numbers As Horror Movies