As Everything Unfolds – ‘WITHIN EACH LIES THE OTHER’

By Ian Kenworthy

You run toward the cliffs, you dive, and for a moment you hang in the air before plunging into the cold, turbulent water. Welcome to the immersive, violent sound of As Everything Unfolds, post-hardcore at its best; rich, layered and catchy as hell. The tides have changed, and you’re going to be swept away.

After building momentum with the massive heartrending singles ‘Hiding From Myself’, ‘Take Me There’ and ‘Stranger In The Mirror’, High Wycombe’s premier six-piece have unleash their debut album ‘Within Each Lies The Other’ and even if you’re a fan of their earlier work, you’re still not ready.

The band’s 2015 EP ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ laid the foundations, presenting three expansive and metal-flavoured post-hardcore songs with a pop-punk edge. Their second, ‘Collide’, was darker and heavier with more emphasis on metal, yet the band really hit their stride with 2018’s ‘Closure’ EP, which settled somewhere in between. For this debut full-length they have further expanded and refined their sound, creating the ocean of riffs and synths that bring to mind bands like Chiodos or Underoath, but that also sits alongside contemporaries like Dream State and Thiscityisours. So, in many ways you can understand what they have aimed to do: stamp their personality on a familiar sound.

Part of the band’s appeal is the shifting guitar style and each song writhes and wriggles, the riffs cutting from all different directions, never descending into uninspired chugging, but teasing you with metallic flair, punky chords and a few sprinkles of djent. It’s a case of everything goes so long as it serves the song, and yet for all these different elements everything feels natural and cohesive. As such, there is the staple ‘As Everything Unfolds’ sound, but what makes the record so interesting is that the band are more than willing to play around with the way they present it. ‘On The Inside’ is built around Jon Cassidy’s wailing synths whereas on ‘Take Me There’ it’s Adam Kerr and Owen Hill’s muscular guitar lines that do the heavy lifting. ‘Stay’ gives the bass room to breathe and they are even willing to strip things right back as in the first half of ‘Stranger In The Mirror’, which not only gives the song a different feel but also enhances the chorus’ impact. This makes for a diverse record that allows each song to stand on its own. Even the relatively unadventurous ‘I’m Not The Only One’ is solid and features a slow section as wide and deep as the river Wye and a breakdown big enough to level High Wycombe’s low-lying suburbs.

It’s a shame that the production repeatedly favours tricks like fading the vocals into the background and over-emphasising pauses, as they make the album sound more generic than it is, but this is a minor quibble. The album is crisp, expansive when it needs to be, and weighty in all the right places. The guitar licks have plenty of bite and the synths add a series of different flavours without dominating or sounding like the trite backing tracks that are pervasive in the genre.

Beneath one of the band’s earliest YouTube uploads was a comment by vocalist Charlie Rolfe suggesting that she was unable to continue with the band and would soon be leaving. It serves as a reminder how fragile any band is and how amazing it is that music gets made at all, let alone music as inspiring as this. While we can’t know the cost of her change of heart, we’re lucky she stayed. Truly a siren, she lures you into the band’s music with her powerful and distinctive voice, and while it’s not hard to work out the influences behind the pop-punk singing on ‘Greyscale’, each song has its own flavour and every chorus is extremely catchy. It’s also notable that she adds her own personal spin to the verses and lets her native accent shine. Her ability to switch between soaring ethereal singing and a variety of caustic screams is also a rare talent. On ‘Hiding From Myself’ she deploys a sand-scouring screeching yell to add weight to certain passages, whereas on ‘Wallow’ she gets to really show off what she can do. Easily the heaviest track the band have recorded, it features a repressed breakdown where one moment she’s snapping and snarling like a vicious terrier, the next she’s throwing out a soaring chorus, before plunging into a cavernous death growl. It really is a stunning performance and the quality is high throughout.

Notably, when Rolfe sings, her voice is awash with emotion.  You can clearly hear it on ‘Stay’ and Hiding From Myself’ where she uses hooks barbed with sadness that really gets stuck under your skin. This effect is enhanced by the way the songs have been arranged and the emotional weight increases through the track order, becoming more intense and beautiful so that the penultimate track ‘One Last Time’ is a massive heart-breaking goodbye, leaving ‘Wither’ to crash in like a tidal wave, completing the crushing and powerful journey.

‘Within Each Lies The Other’ feels personal and powerful while opening its arms to embrace a wide audience. An ambitious and often brilliant debut album, it is the sound of modern post-hardcore, if you let it, it will sweep you off your feet.

IAN KENWORTHY

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