Chicago Chaotic Hardcore band meth. are certainly one of the more appropriately named bands in the extreme music scene, as their music has always conveyed layers of psychosis and desperation that feels like it could only be fueled by massive amounts of the one of the hardest and most destructive drugs in existence. Known for their insane live performances and truly unhinged recordings, they’ve been turning heads for quite a few years well past the initial shock value their namesake might hit with.
Their 2019 full length and Prosthetic debut Mother Of Red Light was a stark step up from their already well received initial EP’s, showcasing some of the bleakest and darkest mathcore that’s ever been put to tape. With that being said, the release of their second LP Shame marks yet another progression for the band, with a hard lean into noise rock and a sense of cohesiveness and improved songwriting that’s far beyond anything they’ve previously released to date, not to mention the creation of the most foreboding and at times outright terrifying atmosphere I’ve heard on any record from a heavy band in years.
When the white knuckle intensity of the incendiary opening track “Doubt” hits, it seems like it might be easy to pin down meth.’s influences and sound, but as the album unfolds it’s clear that’s not so simple. There are certainly elements of their sound pulled from darkest and heaviest moments of legendary chaotic hardcore bands Converge or early Dillinger Escape Plan here, but they’re spliced with the blackened sludge force of overseas bands Celeste and Hexis, and the hypnotic, spastic noise rock of Jesus Lizard or their more modern counterparts Young Widows.
Shame’s seven songs have a strong and unified focus both with sonic cohesiveness and in regards to the title of the record, as the band explores the trauma that comes from the feeling of Shame itself through battling with addiction and mental health issues. While the music here is sprawling and chaotic, songs like “Compulsion”, “Cruelty” and the title track couldn’t be more literal in conveying these feelings and the sense of pain that comes with them.
For myself at least, previous releases from meth. were so chaotic at times that while I certainly appreciated the obvious effort put into them, they sometimes felt a bit less memorable due to them being all over the place. Shame certainly does not have this issue, as the songwriting on this record is an absolutely massive step up from anything the band has previously released. A relentless and mesmerizing rhythm section pushes every song on this record forward with an urgent consistency and leaves it’s mark long after the initial listen, with an absolutely massive sound that feels like it surrounds and ultimately consumes you.
This is bolstered by an incredible recording from Zack Farrer at Rose Raft Studios that nails the huge, menacing feel of their live sets perfectly, while still maintaining an impressive sense of clarity amidst all of the chaos. This is far and wide the biggest and best sounding recording from the band yet, and it’s not even remotely close.
When the band does break out of their rhythmic lockstep and dips into the more chaotic mathcore of their past releases, it’s always well placed within the context of each song and it’s brevity works to it’s advantage, hitting with a sledgehammer force that pushes the bleak, industrial atmosphere of the record to new levels. It’s to meth,’s credit that even the most lengthy, 6+ minute songs on Shame never feel overly long, with experimental flourishes like the haunting clean vocals layered in “Blush” or the hard noise rock leanings of the title track ensuring that every song makes it's own unique mark while never straying from the consistency and theme of the record itself, no easy feat in itself when a record is so clearly focused on one unifying sound and focus.
Bottom Line: Shame is a watershed moment for meth., a sprawling, consistently intense chaotic hardcore record coupled with a clear artistic focus on the myriad of painful emotions that it’s very title brings forth the human psyche. This is a record that will be talked about for years to come by fans of hardcore, metal, noise rock and every heavy music genre in between. Something like this only drops every once in a while, and I’d recommend anyone even remotely interested in extreme music gives this one a spin immediately.