Thirdface, a Nashville hardcore group whose debut full-length album Do It With A Smile is out now, sound absolutely uncompromising.
The Impact of Do It With A Smile
The band present incinerating tracks that explode with maniacal yet menacingly focused fury, and the journey feels exhilarating. Most of the beefy music across Do It With A Smile is quite brisk, with quickly moving rhythms, abrasive guitar riffing, jarring basslines, and thoroughly resonating drum blasts. Meanwhile, the contributions from vocalist Kathryn Edwards feel scorching, and all of these elements seem united by a fittingly grandiose yet volatile rage.
“Themes are definitely rising up above oppression,” Edwards shares, discussing the album. “Finding your own voice among the dust clouds. Full-on aggression to name your truth.”
These themes definitely shine in the music from Thirdface, who don’t exactly sound restrained. Their emotive musical flames feel intriguingly tempered. Thanks in part to the demolishing energy, there’s a sharp focus in the sound, and the songs seem built around free-wheeling senses of a kind of personal unease. Every element feels pointedly constructed, and there’s room to really feel the impact, which provides an accessible edge. Rather than an inhuman cloud, the music feels like an outward burst of electrifying zeal.
“Everyone needs a community to be able to be fully expressive about their wants, needs, and simply fed up-ness with things that cause them harm,” Edwards observes. “While there have definitely been times in the music scene where things were a status quo and the chains to the doors were held by gatekeepers, we have had an awakening of more of the masses. It’s unacceptable to force people into the shadows, and we are finally coming out.”
The music is formidable, on both a physical and a more emotional level, but it’s forcefully propulsive enough that the central perspective definitely doesn’t feel stuck. More than simmering in any kind of malaise, Thirdface sound like they’re urgently musically searching for some space for personal security, and the passionate tracks feel compelling. The richly dynamic yet raw and ragged energy feels like an enlivening outcry for relief, and the rather intricate-feeling music itself comes across as quite impressive, confidently carving out a space for triumph amidst the blistering haze.
“I do, because I do talk about real problems that I and many others can relate to,” Edwards observes when asked whether they’d say that there’s catharsis in the album’s journey. “Under the veneer of horror and anime is just me screaming to be heard over the hum. Writing lyrics that make me feel empowered is amazing, and I hope that it can also help others.”
The consistently harshly-toned album begins with the daunting track “Customary,” which packs maniacal riffing with relentlessly assertive drum hits. From there, Thirdface intertwine dynamic atmosphere, with rattling shifts between restraint and ferocity on the immediately follow-up track “Local” and more overtly unsettling atmospherics on “Grasping At The Root” and “Ally.” The comparatively lighter moments feel drenched in seething menace rather than providing solid respite.
“The songwriting process is probably pretty typical of many bands where one person comes up with something — a riff, progression of riffs, ghost of a riff, etc. — and then everyone collaborates to flesh out and develop the initial input,” guitarist David Reichley shares. “As far as guideposts/ orientation/ particular sounds go, I think the four of us have similar interests that overlap but rarely completely line up with each other so everyone seems to hear different things and have different impulses. It’s a matter of balancing everything to sound cohesive. But I don’t know if we actually do that or not; it probably sounds like a bunch of stupid bullshit.”
Putting the Sound Together
As aptly exemplified by “Villains!”, the instrumentals consistently hit hard. That track opens with a thoroughly jarring bassline from the group’s Maddy Madeira (who, along with drummer Shibby Poole, fills out the project), and the journey feels pretty grueling.
There’s a confident swagger in the music, and Madeira suggests that smaller scenes in the band’s home area help provide for personal ambition.
“The scenes in this region are so small that it’s hard to fill a bill with bands that fit into the same genre — there’s just not that many bands,” the bassist shares. “In bigger cities you could see a hardcore show and it would be four hardcore bands but that’s a challenge in Nashville — most of the shows I’ve booked or played here have been a total mixed bag genre-wise. I think that’s a big contributor to how unique southeastern bands end up sounding. Having all different kinds of bands play together voids the precedent that you have to sound a certain way. You can’t put yourself in a box if there is no box to begin with.”
Ultimately, Thirdface ground their passionate musical explorations in songwriting that feels unmistakably solid.
“David wrote riffs over time and got Shibby and Maddy in on it,” Edwards shares, discussing the formation of the project. “They were seeking a vocalist after having fleshed out some of the songs. I was asked to join and brought what I had. The excitement we got from hearing what appeared to be a real deal song was amazing.”
Do It With A Smile is available via Exploding In Sound Records.