New York City, although glamorous in pop culture, can truly be a dark and often broken down, sprawling concrete hell. Metalcore newcomers Surfacing invite us to the depths of this New York they call home. Their first full-length album, Chaos Through Clarity, is many things, including more polished than you would expect from a first release (and rightfully so, as it was a five year journey from start to finish). It is agonizing, furious and fast. It is also slow, hopeful and, of course, chaotic.
Surfacing’s first record is an eccentric combination of metalcore sounds. Songs like “Pitch Black” and “Circles” offer formulaic, softer sounds with alternating clean and growling vocals that are more common with many of the current top bands of the genre. They are the weakest parts of the album. But the genericness of these moments serves to make the rest of the album stand out as stronger and more creative.
“Thank You For The Inspiration” is a very odd song, but I don’t mean to say it isn’t good. It has some frenzied riffs that seem misplaced and a symphonic section coming out of nowhere, plus a wide range of vocals. It’s all over the place, but Ryan Mayorga (vocals) makes the different styles work. He transitions well from singing into a maelstrom of shrieks and unintelligible anger in this song and throughout the album. The intensity rises and falls until it grinds to a halt with the intro of “In the Wake Of Armageddon.” Slow and melodic, the soft melody heralds in the drums and the vocals. It is pleasantly surprising.
At first, the dizzying mixture of sounds suggests that Surfacing is trying too hard to appeal to everyone with their first album. Then it seems as if they went overboard with musical elements that don’t belong. And then, when you get to the end and you realize that title track “Chaos Through Clarity” boasts what its name implies. Surfacing took half a decade to get to this amalgamation of metalcore. The spectrum of vocals and styles is puzzling, but somehow, for the most part, flows well from song to song. There are little pieces of music that don’t need to be in this album, but with them in it you get an organized madness. Surfacing is refreshingly different from the majority of their contemporaries and this record proves they can compete.
by David Marulanda