I, The Mapmaker – ‘Searching’

By Mark Johnson

Debut EPs almost always seem to represent an unfettered opportunity.  I, The Mapmaker, a melodic hardcore quintet, present with their debut ‘Searching’, an ambitious effort, rich with complexity and dynamism.

Opener ‘Ghostwalker’ floods the listener with mesmerising harmonies, abound with fluid and razor sharp compositions that flow between front man Ashley Emery’s textured screams and crystal clear vocals. I, The Mapmaker posit a particular brand of hopeful post-hardcore; the lyrics highlight an internal struggle that’s exemplified by the last line:”Just not me / Haunt someone else so I can finally sleep (but like the deepest ocean, I am incredible!)”

‘1933’, a track split in two for what could only be a thematic purpose, is a fascinating composition. The first part explodes with a concussive blast of plumbing and warped guitar progressions, teetering between twinkly escalations and throat gripping snarls. ‘Part 2′ is a denouement that feels ambitious in its soundscape, bright and shimmering, flirting with borders of wavy reverb and piercing melodies.

I, The Mapmaker aren’t interested in dichotomies of sound either. ‘Disbelief’s brutal cacophony lets guest vocalist Justine Jones’ layered vocals shine, leading to a potent fusion of guttural bellows and shouts at the track’s climax.

Vocal styles throughout the EP are as diverse as some of the compositions, with ‘Capsized’ demonstrating Emery playing once more with spoken word through verses, and breaking into massive anthemic choruses. This is I, the Mapmaker’s sweet spot: bright and shining, oscillating between opened riffs and spaces into claustrophobic collisions of melodic violence.

With ‘Searching’, I,The Mapmaker confront the demons within all us alongside a narrow sense of optimism. As a debut, it represents that endeavour in both its conflicted soundscapes and effective lyrics. While there are a few puzzling moments that don’t quite land where they should, it’s a powerful and intense debut that showcases a band with tremendous allure and promise.

BRIAN ROESLER

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