Album Review: For Your Health – ‘In Spite Of’
Posted: by The Editor
There’s a lot going on during In Spite Of, the debut full length from Columbus screamo band For Your Health. It’s 17 tight minutes of crashing and smashing and squelching, riffs piling on top of riffs, words tumbling over top of each other in ferocious shouts and fervent screams. At times, the songs on In Spite Of seem to result from dangerous scientific experiments, multiple songs spliced together in unexpected and confounding ways. I’m shivering and fidgeting all throughout this record like I’ve had too many cups of iced coffee and I can’t seem to settle down into a single mood. It’s visceral and physical and unnerving. In short, In Spite Of is absolutely sick.
Because of the way this album works, it’s sometimes difficult to track or remember what happens from one song to the next. Each track is exploding with ideas and left turns, crashing through movements in a way that’s often indistinguishable from the way the individual songs crash into each other. Let’s break down album highlight “you’re so united ninety-three, we’re so flight one-eighty,” for example—here’s a song that puts the jagged edge forward, jittery and loud riffs dropping like clattering swords on the asphalt. That’s kind of its own thing for 20 seconds before the song moves into a clean vocal passage that’s melodic and even catchy—“I find beauty in the darkest things/ so this ugly love might move me.” That clean side rises to a boil pretty quickly, turning into raging, thrilling screams. Then there’s a three-second waltz break. Before you know it, the song is over and you’re exhausted. It’s only been a minute and a half.
In Spite Of is flashy and enticing, but it’s not just playing with spectacle for the sake of spectacle. There’s a significance to For Your Health’s urgency, and it’s always palpable. On “thank you for the venmo,” which sounds like the dramatic climax of Thursday’s “Paris in Flames” brought to the next level of intensity, vocalist Hayden Rodriguez is talking about labor conditions (“jobs like these end in heart failure”) and rallying workers to fight back (“bite the hand that feeds/ bite it hard/ these are reparations in flesh”). On the breakneck “every day at 13:12,” Rodriguez tears through nine lines of inflammatory digs at the oppressive police state—“carceral intent is all that you protect/ compassion is the brick that missed your precious little head.” These songs are as spiky and cutting lyrically as they are sonically, and they’re all the more powerful for it.
On In Spite Of, For Your Health deploy the politics and specificity of straight-up punk music, the amplified gravity of hardcore records, the drama and wry referential humor of aughts emo (keep an eye out for those My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy nods), and the technical prowess of more metal-leaning sounds. Indeed, these songs move so fast that I tend to keep doubling back to make sure I’m taking in all the layers, particularly with the opening three tracks “birthday candle in the effigy” (with its soaring, surprisingly beautiful final minute) “i slept with wes eisold…” (with its start and stop fake-outs), and “push the fucking rock, sisy” (with its atmospheric, almost mathy outro). But for all of its disparate influences and all its violent moments of whiplash, the record holds together as a whole experience remarkably well. The frenetic nature of In Spite Of may make you shiver and squirm, but it’s always a thrill.
Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great /Phenomenal
Jordan Walsh | @jordalsh
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