Least Hated: BURIED INSIDE 'Chronoclast'
A look back on the Ottawa band's conceptual Relapse Records debut
Here at Lambgoat we have a reputation to uphold, so we can't say that these are our favorite, time-tested, go-to albums. Let's just call them Lambgoat's least hated instead.
Time is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, revered or despised; we are all limited by the finiteness of our existence. And so we traverse it, bound to its endless movement as we operate within arbitrary, cyclical, manmade units of measurement. It’s something we rarely stop to contemplate or even acknowledge.
That’s the power a good book, film or even a record possesses; to make us consider that which we otherwise don’t recognize. Buried Inside’s 2004 album, Chronoclast achieved just that. Perhaps more so than any other genre of music, hardcore has always been a forum for the expression of ideas. A range of lifestyles, philosophies and beliefs including straight edge, animal rights, spirituality and religion have found a home in the eccentric music scene with bands often employing thought-provoking and intelligent lyrics on the subject matter. But perhaps none did it as impressively as Buried Inside on Chronoclast. Subtitled Selected Essays on Time-Reckoning and Auto-Cannibalism, the Ottawa based band’s third album—their first with the venerable Relapse Records—was a dive into these concepts of time; how it has been used as a tool to control, to divide, and ultimately, to live by.
It’s a theme that very clearly runs throughout the album. Song titles such as “Time As Imperialism”, “Time As Surrogate Religion” and “Time As Commodity” are intriguing enough, but the lyrics are incredibly well thought-out and captivating. Lines like, “The calendar year is an imperial narrative / The seven-day week is an imperial infliction / Circannual holidays are imperial flag-posts / Mechanical time is an imperial installation,” and “This baptism took place on the hinges of history by the faithful who made repression a cardinal requisite / By the faithful who made the timepiece as holy as the cross / Hell-bent on standardization: the wheel keeps turning and we all turn with it” inspire curiosity and even deep contemplation. The lyrics in the album booklet are even accompanied by quotes from authors and great thinkers, providing further context as well as recommended reading.
Of course, this would all just be a very impressive and interesting idea if the music lacked in quality, which it most certainly does not. On Chronoclast Buried Inside honed in on their own sound, favoring control over the freneticism of their earlier material. Landing somewhere between hardcore, metal, and what would have been referred to as metalcore in the early aughts, the band created their own unique take on heavy music. Blasts of chaotic dissonance yield to bright octave chord melodies in a capture-and-release of tension building. Songs like “Time As Ideology” and “Time As Abjection” burst with driving drum beats and blaring guitars while “Time As Imperialism” and closing track “Time As Resistance” are slow-burning crescendos, showing a level of restraint as the band builds to their ultimate conclusions. The back and forth creates a level of dynamic that keeps the entire run time of the album interesting and engaging to the listener.
Chronoclast also displayed Buried Inside’s attention to detail. Sprinkled throughout the record are instrumentals, peppered with strings and ambient noise. Interlude tracks “Time As Methodology” and “Time As Abjection” share a common motif, connecting the front half and the back half of the album with a shared musical theme. “Reintroduction” even plays out closer to a movement from a Godspeed You! Black Emperor song than anything from a hardcore record.
Buried Inside released one more album, the fantastic Spoils of Failure, in 2009 before calling it a day. It was another step forward with creative songwriting and intellectual lyrical content, but it lacked the uncertain, intangible atmosphere that its predecessor had tapped into. It was obvious that Chronoclast was a special record when it came out, but no one could have predicted how well it would withstand the test of that thing we call time.