For a band with two EPs to their name, the last of which was released two years ago, and in a genre with such a fast-moving current, it’s great to see My Iron Lung back with a full-length offering. Being As An Ocean, Counterparts, Hundredth; the emotional hardcore scene has received an injection of adrenaline to the heart recently and is experiencing a period of rude health. On ‘Relief’, MIL have tailored a sound to happily sit amongst the output of this emerging scene.
‘Relief’ is raw, not in production (left in the capable hands of Sam Pura at Panda Studios), but in song writing. All the typical themes are covered here: alienation, escapism, hopelessness and rediscovering lost hope, and the delivery is sincere. While the album starts strong with the explosive ‘Commonwealth’ and ‘Conflict Of Interest’, this level of quality cannot be maintained over its 25-minute run time.
At their best, MIL blend the urgency and articulation of emo with the angular soundscapes of post-hardcore bands like Gospel, but anaemia creeps in on the closing tracks, to turn what should be a crux of intensity into a generic amble. The worst offender is ‘Grand Scheme’, which attempts to mix uplifting melancholia with a muddy shoegaze vocal, leeching any momentum generated by the storming ‘June’, the last time ‘Relief’ truly shines.
MIL have created an album that burns brightly in its opening act, but becomes mired in half-baked ideas at a crucial time for ‘Relief’‘s flow as a record. It will be enough to carve their niche in the scene; the quality of tracks like ‘Monument’ and ‘Commonwealth’ will have arms swinging and throats shredding, and may even lead to more exposure for their fantastic 2012 EP, ‘Grief’. This earlier release does far better at demonstrating their focus and urgency. There’s nothing on ‘Relief’ with the intensity of ‘Family Traits’ or the bare exasperation of ‘Here’s To The Collaborative Efforts Made By All Things Under The Sun’. While the years between records tightened up their song writing and allowed them to explore more ambitious ideas, their previous energy has been diluted.
Written by Grant Bailey