Closer Deliver Passionate Screamo/ Post-Hardcore On Tensely Rattling New Record

The northeastern U.S.-based screamo/ post-hardcore trio Closer pack a musical dynamite blast of forceful passion on their invigorating new album, Within One Stem, which is available now via a slew of labels.

The impressive record quickly proves both heavy and ragged, like the sonic equivalent of desperately trying to trek forward while waves of murky water gradually rise and repeatedly knock you off balance. The straining undertow across Within One Stem is formidable — some of these rhythms pack a bracing jolt of desperation, with harshly contorted structures — but the album’s push forward also essentially never ceases, and the record seems fueled by a well of fiery inward strength.

As such, this latest Closer effort lands like a testament to determination, and the often compellingly dramatic instrumentals aptly and poignantly communicate the emotional stakes. The mix proves thick and immersive, turning the themes that the album explores into physically reverberating expressions of personal release, like stumbling into a thicket of emotional live wires. When inwardly pushing something down becomes no longer feasible, Closer sound like they’re right there, exploring what it means to dive right into the blaze.

The songs land with a truly resounding thud, packing stomach-churning basslines, thick-toned guitar riffs on par with something like melodic hardcore, and rumbling drum volleys alongside fiery and heartfelt vocals. The songs are often shifting, and the dynamic variety across the record gives it an especially emotionally realistic touch to the point that listening in feels like sitting with a friend for a relieving conversation — or, alternatively, raging with them in a moment of freeing catharsis. The energy across Within One Stem seems quite direct, pointedly amplifying the rattling impact.

The relatively beefy and briskly moving rhythms promptly start rolling on album opener “Ruins in Reverse,” while follow-up track “Landslide” alternates between more shuddering riffs and moments of somewhat mathy, intricately expressed anxiety, and that latter track bursts into a storm of scorching riffing as it moves into its conclusion. Uneasy vibes surface across the album, with a sharply propulsive roller-coaster ride through the various dynamic touches.

Meanwhile, relatively slower, quieter moments on tracks including “New Refused” and elsewhere seem like sonic expressions of struggling through pangs of tense emotion — even in the less brash moments, the strain proves intense. “New Refused” in particular ends in part on a standout segment of crescendoing processional drums. Elsewhere, the intensity grows — “Pawning a Laugh” features bursts of brisker instrumentation.

The album remains relatively free-wheeling throughout its runtime, and this unrest makes the journey feel relatively grueling, although it remains exhilarating. The music often feels like it’s just taken off without any substantial hesitation, like it’s capturing a moment when anguish takes over as clouds of blinding emotional fog grow. Tearing through that metaphorical fog while along for the journey that Closer share eventually feels like finally reaching a point of hard-won emotional security.

5/5 Stars

Listen to Within One Stem below!