The hardcore unit craft a record for the times, chock-full of compositional variety and grit.
Words by Luis (@luis.hoa):
Aggression may be apt in describing the hardcore genre, but only partially for it can be dismissive of the intentionality behind it all. As history has shown, hardcore is music with a driving message expressed through hard-hitting wordplay and sonics that reflect it. Using this as a baseline, bands in the scene, whether old or new, have used themselves as a platform expressive of their purpose. In 2016, Ryan Savitski, Tommy Norton, Ross Thompson, Brian Talipan, and Grady Allen came together and formed One Step Closer to tell a tale of truth, love, and the duality of humanity. Today, the band's debut full-length record, This Place You Know, arrived via Run For Cover Records.
Though quite new as a band, their musicianship says otherwise and This Place You Know shines prior to even actually engaging with the material. Toronto-based illustrator Jeffrey Kam provides a canvass ready for interpretation with vivid details to uncover after each consecutive view. Like the cover it sports, This Place You Know is riddled with varied structure and an approach that pushes the genre's defining characteristics to the edge, akin to TURNSTILE's contemporary evolution. In just under two minutes, opening track I Feel So is representative of what you'll see here: shifting punk and D-beat drum patterns, hard-hitting riffs, and a seamless blend of assertiveness and grace. The band's array of influence is present early on and Savitski's impassioned screams carry the energy forward. Home For The Night employs clean guitars and tour-ready chants that will have us shouting "I’m never coming home, never coming home" in unison.
Autumn presents One Step Closer at their best with each member firing away with conviction. Savitski's screams soar with the backing of an electric guitar display that is truly exquisite. Drummer Tommy Norton explodes underneath while Brian Talipan holds his own with resounding bass lines. Each element shines with a crisp production that allows for it to be perfectly heard, and felt. Chrysanthemum, with clean backing vocals and all, rips through in ways that harken back to the band's blink-182 self-titled influence. The pain heard in each scream is heartfelt and accessible to all who look for a musical experience that transcends the surface level.
For as fierce as This Place You Know is in its entirety, tracks like Hereafter and Lead To Gray offer moments of ease, the latter of which is arguable one of the album's standout efforts. Lead To Gray is very much a defining One Step Closer hymn, putting its heart at the forefront with a moving chorus that is prefaced and followed by aggressive passages. Screams meet cleans and One Step Closer have themselves an anthem that will surely translate just as well, if not better, on the live stage. Hereafter excels at well but in a much different vein, one that is more melancholic. Guitar and vocal melodies takes center stage and it's here that the band are at their most vulnerable. As the track hits the back-end, Savitski's closing vocals "While they call for me, I won’t feel a thing" fade into a gentle piano passage that caps off a truly powerful work. Shortly after, Run For Cover kick it back into high gear and Time Spent, Too Long continues the path of heart-wrenching lyricism.
From the rampage of opener I Feel So to the versatility of closer As The City Sleeps, One Step Closer have shown that in the flooded ranks of contemporary records, they're capable of something special. This Place You Know may only be a debut, but it cements the five-piece as one of the most exciting acts in the genre, one to keep a particular close eye on. Don't mistake their short existence for a lack of maturity for what they achieve here says otherwise. Let Kam's detail rich artwork guide you into the introspective world of One Step Closer.
This Place You Know is available now via Run For Cover Records. Order it HERE.