I may not have listened to every genre of music in existence, but because I spend so much time researching new artists, it’s rare for me to be completely surprised. The fascination that I experienced when I first discovered things like thrash metal and Midwestern emo is long gone, and unfortunately, I haven’t been able to repeat it with any other newfound genres. Every now and then, I’ll find a nice little nugget to pique my interest, but it’s been a while. Luckily, when I was least expecting it, I was introduced to the organized insanity of For Your Health.
It may only be February, but I’m quite positive that For Your Health will be one of my favorite discoveries of the year. The mathcore quartet from Columbus, Ohio is one of the most energetic and visceral bands I’ve ever heard, even to the point where I audibly yelled from the shock and excitement of some of their songs. As much as I adore other chaotic bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Car Bomb, I haven’t really been caught off-guard in a long time. Although I hadn’t even heard about the band before our Everything Is Noise Weekly Recommendations, For Your Health‘s debut full-length In Spite Of is definitely one of the best hardcore albums I’ve heard in recent years.
From the very first few seconds of the opening track, “birthday candles in the effigy”, it’s obvious that the song is about to be a masterclass in proper mathcore. The dissonant guitars and tumultuous drumming is matched flawlessly with brutal vocals. The song is an excellent way to kick off the album, especially because it showcases what to expect for the upcoming tracks. The first half is total and utter violence, but when you’re expecting the band to not stray from the hardcore element, the song completely turns around to break the assumptions you may have already made. Out of nowhere, the song takes on a post-hardcore influence similar to Dance Gavin Dance, complete with soaring vocals and intricate guitar leads. It’s an interesting change that separates For Your Health from mathcore bands that tend to rely mostly on ferocity.
The amount of stylistic shifts throughout the album makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable. One of my favorite tracks, “save your breath, you’re gonna need it to blow my head off” reminds me of typical mathcore akin to the monumental The Dillinger Escape Plan. However, For Your Health refuses to just be a clone of the influences they exhibit. For example, “push the fucking rock, sisy” sounds like something that would be on a skramz album, while “you’re so united ninety-three, we’re so flight one-eighty” embodies classic post-hardcore like Glassjaw. It’s difficult to categorize the album specifically as mathcore, especially since there is a ton of creativity and originality throughout the album. However, I believe the mathy element in the music seems to be the gateway that allows all of the potential creativity to be released.
In Spite Of plays out similarly to a grindcore album in terms of song length. It’s perfect for someone that tends to get bored easily (like me!) by keeping the tracks short and engaging. The longest track is the instrumental interlude “if anyone asks we’re already fucked” which sits at two-and-a-half minutes, whereas the quick punk charm of “like a thirteenth floor elevator…” runs at only 14 seconds long. While the tracks themselves are decently short, most of the album plays as if it’s one long song, especially due to the effective lack of silence between different songs.
One of my favorite transitions definitely is from “abscess makes the heart grow” and “the day of black sun”. “abscess makes the heart grow” sounds like an early 2000s track that Thursday or Finch would have written, but it soon cuts hard to the full-blown hardcore punk track, “The Day of Black Sun”. This abrupt change in mood is a perfect example of the ways that For Your Health grabs your attention and holds it without giving any opportunity to feel comfortable or prepared.
If you consider yourself a fan of mathcore, do yourself a favor and check out In Spite Of as soon as humanly possible. At a 17-minute runtime, the album is digestible in a short time, but it also lends itself to plenty of re-listens. If you’re like me, you’ll finish the final track and immediately listen to the full album again (which is easy since the “this city will crumble and many people will die” ends with the same distorted feedback that is heard at the beginning of “birthday candles in the effigy”). I’m absolutely blown away by the energy that this album has, and it hasn’t disappeared after listening to it countless times already. For Your Health is the band I’ve been waiting for to wake me up and pull me out of my musical funk, and I expect In Spite Of to remain in my record circulation for a long time.