Amen/I Am Not What I Am
If you are like me sometimes seeing a band before listening to them is one of the most awakening experiences. Being able to see how a band handles themselves in a live environment, and then going back and hearing how they do it through a studio is really exciting. Some bands today can cut an amazing record but, especially in hardcore, can’t deliver 1/10th of the intensity in a live environment (the opposite is certainly true as well). It seems that the rare gem today is the band that can both floor you on their record and live. Young and in the Way (YAITW) is one of those bands. I first experienced their blend of black metal aesthetics and crust intensity at a dive bar in North Carolina. I didn’t know what to expect and the insane amount of incense had me almost running for the hills, but then they exploded into their first song. I know the use of hyperbole and terms like exploded are thrown around like candy in most reviews that surface but I can’t think of anything else to describe the intensity that I witnessed. Their set was short, fast and heavy. I couldn't wait to hear them recorded.
So that leaves me siting before my computer listening to Amen/I Am Not What I Am DLP released by the always great A389 records. It is not my first listen to either of these records, but sitting down with a record in order to review it is always a vastly different experience than just jamming it. The second unique attribute of this experience is the chance to view their catalogue in a new way: by placing Amen and I Am Not What I Am in juxtaposition with each other.
Amen is close to a perfect debut LP. It does what, in my opinion, all great debut LPs achieve: develops an early image of the bands sound while leaving room for improvement and development. Listening to Amen, immediately you get an idea of how YAITW is going to grow and how their songwriting is only going to improve from an already impressive starting point. Worrier emerges as the song of the album to me. The track sounds like a hybrid between 2nd wave Black Metal and Converge, with the combination of discordant guitar workings and speed.
Listening to Amen directly into I Am... really showcases the leaps YIATW has made over time. Amen, in itself, seems to have almost an evolution from fast and to the point to drawn out and atmospheric. This is continued in the second LP as the band really starts to experiment more and more with their Black Metal influences. While the record definitely delves more into Black Metal stylings the record does not lose the speed and drive of Amen, just seems to find a new balance between the two.
These albums feel like concept records, not in the sense of cheesy Dungeons and Dragon Metal, but in the flow, feel and look of the records. To start the records have impeccable flow, each track complimenting the next perfectly. The flow crafts a standalone work that exist on its own, feeling almost like a disservice to the record to listen to just a song or two. Instead these records should be listened to from start to finish. The layout/artwork only serve to complete the overall aesthetic of the albums. YIATW has a very defined look; to the point where I can almost pinpoint their art before knowing it is theirs.
To conclude, I’ll say this, YIATW is not doing anything completely unique, they don’t seem to be trying to reinvent the wheel. Yes there is an onslaught of modern hardcore/punk bands borrowing from both Black Metal’s mystique and sound. However it would be a shame to disregard their work simply because of that fact. These records are honestly great and will remain relevant with time.