Better Than Mending blend post-rock influences and a strong sense for progressive melodies on their gloomy, bleak EP Desire Lines.
I discovered melodic hardcore in my youth, mainly because all my friends listened to it. I admired the energy and the raw aggression, paired with the sense of hopeful melodicism that the genre brings forth. Through the years I lost touch with the genre, turning to either more harsh or more poppy music. Seeing Better Than Mending on our review list sparked an interest for the record with me though. Maybe because of a breeze of nostalgia or just general curiosity about what bands now carrying the torch sound like, I picked up Desire Lines and couldn’t be happier.
Better Than Mending blend post-rock influences and a strong sense for progressive melodies on their gloomy, bleak EP. The first track, “Seventh Circle”, starts with a droning, almost doomy bassline. As the vocals come in, so do the drums and guitars, bringing structure to the warm droning of the bass. Rough, emotional vocals peak through the thick atmosphere like monoliths to the onslaught of distortion, slowly grinding riffs, and deep lyricism you’re about to witness. Before long, a fuzzy distortion lays itself over the guitars like a blanket, muffling the vocals, which are now almost choking on the melancholy of the song. After half the track is over, the band suddenly kicks it up a notch, mixing shrill, yet pleasant melodies with mid-paced drumming, always continuing the weighted feeling of looming desperation.
Throughout “Seventh Circle”, the guitar and bass remain tinged with reverb and delay, giving the instrumentals more space and leaving the more precise rhythms to the very tight drums. With this spacey, emotional style of hardcore, the band almost reminds me of Suis La Lune.
“Provider”, the follow up track, sets sail in a completely different direction. Straight from the beginning, Better Than Mending loses no time, introducing their slightly mathy, raw style with a beautifully chaotic display of aggression. There is an emphasis on the vocals that slowly formed in the last track, yet only manifested here. Dynamic, strong, brittle, or a screamed whisper, all these things are to be expected on Desire Lines, with a vocal deliverance you don’t ever hear executed so elegantly in this genre. In the past few years, melodic hardcore rarely been so catchy, yet so smart.
However, the record does not relent here. “Unearthed” provides the listener with drum fills galore and some of the hardest grooves on the record. With short blast beats, drum rolls, and upbeat hardcore rhythms, the drummer really goes all out for this song, demonstrating finesse without showing off. “Still”, on the other hand, puts more weight on the guitar leads, carefully and seamlessly weaving together melody and counter-melody.
In the end, I can only say how much I enjoyed Desire Lines. Does the band have room for improvement? Of course. The EP could be more cohesive and the production is kind of inconsistent throughout the record, but there is a lot of fun to be had with it. Bands like this would wonderfully pair with modern hardcore rosters like that of Holy Roar Records, being equally as forward thinking and constantly moving as artists on that label. If you want really good hardcore, you want Better Than Mending.