Giver – Sculpture of Violence: Review & Reflections
Let’s see what Giver gives me (no, not what you think).
Germany’s Giver plays post-hardcore. Quintessential post-hardcore, perhaps. I’m not huge on the genre and certainly not knowledgeable, but here’s what I understand the term to mean: while retaining several elements of its genetic predecessor—most notably gang shouts and breakdowns—post-hardcore adds an emotional layer or two. Instead of focusing on brutal chugs, the guitars are much more about melody and frequently wander into higher registers, creating brighter, shimmering sounds that often evoke melancholy or despair. The vocals follow along in this direction while remaining rooted in anger, thus enhancing the standard belligerent barking. In short, it’s hardcore that dares to not sound tough all the time. That’s my definition, and that is exactly what Giver does. When I put on Sculpture of Violence, I get precisely what I expect from a post-hardcore record.
This struck me as a bad thing at first. It certainly seemed to be a bad thing when The Bleeding‘s latest effort gave me exactly what I expect from a thrash record without adding anything on top. In ruminating on this, I wondered what exactly it was that I expected. A more creative approach in The Bleeding’s case, but what would that even look like here? Thanks to my unfamiliarity with the genre in this case, I was eventually able to just sit back and enjoy the damn record without nitpicking about what could have been. I hope I can carry that mindset over to other music. Not every album needs to tear down boundaries, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with “only” nailing a genre (I’m still not sure whether Giver does either, but the point is I don’t care).
Speaking of what could have been, another reason why I like the album is because of its youthful energy. It makes me think that I might have liked this as a teenager—if I hadn’t been too concerned with coolness to not act jaded about everything. Had I embraced the fact that I was not the tough guy I would have liked to be, and allowed myself some vulnerability, this album would probably have made for a great soundtrack. It feels like it’s fueled by similar frustrations as those of young adulthood. I may have gotten more out of life if I’d let something like this in. No use crying over spilt milk, and this is not to denigrate Giver and post-hardcore in general as music for angsty kids, but I can’t be the only 30-something struggling with being a grown-up and wondering if I missed some clues somewhere, so maybe this will factor into your reception of the music, too.
After all that rambling, let’s close on some words about the actual music: it’s pretty powerful. It’s great when they play fast and still good when they play slow. It’s a tremendous improvement over their last album. It’s out on Holy Roar (where else). That’s it in a nutshell. Go listen, go buy.