Holy roar newbies Ithaca, a London-based hardcore five-piece that have been active in the UK underground scene since forming in 2012 and releasing EPs in 2014 and 2015, have taken their sweet time to unleash their full-length debut. Thankfully, for those who have been anticipating The Language of Injury, the wait has been well worth it.
Picking up where theTrespassers EP left off in 2015, The Language of Injury sees Ithaca draw from a plethora of influences and other genres to strengthen and expand their raw, devastating metallic hardcore. This means that as well as some Balou-worship there are shades of black metal, doom, post-rock and the likes of Poison The Well. This approach can sometimes lead to jarring moments or mismatches in tone, but Ithaca seamlessly merge these influences, and the resultant spirit of The Language of Injury is admirable as well as accessible.
From the moment the screeching feedback of “New Covenant” opens The Language of Injury’s 32-minutes runtime, the listener is served a powerfully evocative and beautifully ferocious slab of emotional and passionate hardcore. The buzzsaw riffs and intense beatdowns are tour-de-force – the guitar sirens and mid-paced stomp of the closing section of “Impulse Crush” is maybe my favourite moment on the album, and indeed of any 2019 release so far. Perfectly capable of playing at a breakneck speed and whipping up a maelstrom through Djamila’s fierce vocal delivery, Ithaca excel at blending this savagery with a beauty, melancholy and subtlety rarely found within the genre (although this is something that Oathbreaker previously managed, and two of Ithaca’s Holy Roar labelmates, Svalbard and Rolo Tomassi, did with aplomb recently).
There may be much melody within the blistering first four tracks of The Language of Injury – the lighter guitar parts on “Impulse Crush” and “Secretspace” are cleverly emphasised and cut above the vicious nature of the rest of the music – but it’s not until the halfway point that Ithaca allow some space to breathe with the bewitching instrumental interlude “(No Transmission)”. The crisp, ethereal guitar lines provide an appreciated drop in tempo and volume, add to the dynamics of the album and serve to exacerbate the impact of the wonderful title track which is awash with tremolo and softer vocals.
Of the four songs following “The Language of Injury”, “Youth Vs Wisdom” and album closer “Better Abuse” both stand out. The high-pitched phased guitar squeals and piercing snare hits on the former are neat little touches and the final track, the longest and most ambitious on the album, has a 90’s rock feel to it. Both of these tracks highlight the tightness and purposefulness of the songwriting as well as the solid production on the album.
An impressive full-length debut, The Language of Injury is lean and mean, and marks Ithaca out as a promising and immensely interesting hardcore band not afraid to lace their aggression with melody and beauty.
The Language of Injury is released 1st February