Review: Replacire Push Themselves To the Limit and Beyond on The Center That Cannot Hold

You know those people who constantly bitch and moan that there seems to be no innovation or originality in metal anymore? Yeah, those people don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. We’re only halfway through 2024 and there’s already been a conga line of remarkable new releases from bands both new and old, to the point where I can’t even keep up with all of them.

With yesterday’s release of The Center That Cannot Hold, the dynamic and highly unpredictable new full-length from the Boston-based tech death outfit Replacire, we add another great addition to the list. This bad boy is anything but formulaic. In fact, it does everything in its power to keep the listener on their back foot the entire time, with heaviness and technical precision being the only real consistencies to be found throughout. From the moment the opening track “Bloody-Tongued and Screaming” kicks down the door and immediately launches into a fast-paced, off-kilter breakdown, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen next.

It’s always an interesting challenge to try to come up with some visually striking metaphor to help drive a point home about whatever music I happen to be writing about at the time, and after some careful consideration, it finally clicked: this album is like getting to watch a true drunken master do their thing. Between the erratic but clearly well-rehearsed movements and the fact that the riffs hit like a truck, I feel like it’s a pretty apt comparison. Then again, I could have just said it’s whacky and all over the place but still manages to stay heavy as hell the whole time, but where’s the fun in that?

I wracked my brain for days trying to figure out who these guys remind me of, and after a while I realized the reason it’s so hard to compare them to anyone else is because they don’t really sound like any one particular band, which is a noteworthy accomplishment in and of itself. The best frame of reference I could give is some strange amalgamation of Revocation, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and maybe just a little bit of Protest the Hero if they tuned way lower, but even that’s just a loosely defined blueprint. At the end of the day, Replacire just sounds like Replacire, plain and simple, and each individual member is a musician’s musician.

From the jazzy, tasteful drums in the opening of the title track, to the absurdly satisfying bass line towards the end of “The Ghost in the Mirror”, to the positively face melting solos in “A Fine Manipulation” and “Inglorious Impunity” (my personal favorite), there’s a little something to tickle everyone’s fancy here. I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the handful of clean singing segments, but I’m sure other listeners will appreciate them. Vocalist James Dorton, of Black Crown Initiate fame, has never been one to shy away from a challenge, so even though it didn’t necessarily land with me personally, I can certainly understand and respect what they were going for. And either way, they still create an undeniable juxtaposition that catches your attention, if nothing else.

At any rate, it’s not often that an album completely stumps me from beginning to end. Believe me when I tell you, I had absolutely no fucking idea what was going to happen next the entire time, on every single song, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Genuine originality might be in short supply in this day and age, but to suggest that it has dried up entirely is both irresponsible and demonstrably false. In a landscape where every kid with a laptop and a dream can become a “prodigy” after practicing enough finger exercises, Replacire have dared to question what exactly is “tech death”. They’ve challenged it directly to its face, spent a lot of time and effort creating something unique and entirely their own, and most importantly, made it incredibly entertaining to listen to.

This, my friends, is what happens when you achieve a near-perfect balance between innovation and fun. The future of metal might look dim to some, but it’s looking perfectly fine from where I’m standing.

The Center That Cannot Hold is available now via Season of Mist Records, order your copy here


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