In the overcrowded and homogenous world of metalcore (save its much-lauded heavy-hitters: Converge, Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan) Gaza are among the most versatile. Rather than treading the water of burly riffs, scream-growl dynamics, and an obligatory glimmer of melodic melancholy hoping to pass as an anthemic centerpiece, the Salt Lake City six-piece overlap metal’s most pronounced opposites: grindcore and sludge. Bringing together these poles has grouped them with the mathcore class, which, as groan-worthy as the term may sound, has assigned them a reputable list of peers and brought light to the prowess Gaza have strewn across their three albums.
Throwing attention spans about, their debut I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die challenged ears not only with the standard dichotomy of tectonic chugging and piercing microtones, but by allowing one only to attune to a phrase for such a short while before being thrust into another chaotic swing-- a coarseness that seemed almost sanded on the miry-sounding followup He Is Never Coming Back. Though that album didn’t resound much less than its predecessor’s quake, the thought of further hindrances impinging upon Gaza was perceivable.
Gaza’s attack was never out of reach, though, as their latest cuts through as if it had just returned from the bladesmith’s workshop, bearing its original weight and deftly filed. With Converge virtuoso Kurt Ballou at the helm of production, No Absolutes in Human Suffering is reassurance in the form of blistering amplification. An affirmation of the band’s undying stamina and an ideal entry, “Mostly Hair and Bones Now” pounces onto its cataclysmic stomp after a false start of unnervingly spacious and feedback-ridden guitar chords. At its pummeling apex, the absence of guitarist and founding member Luke Sorenson is almost glaring, but the call-and-response tactic of bending notes and roaring interjections makes simplicity seem just as captivating in Gaza’s hands.
No Absolutes basks even longer in its pared-down fortitude as vocalist John Parkin pulls a “We Are the Romans” chant-along mantra on the title track, though it shouldn’t be mistaken for receptiveness. Gaza toy with melody, not as a gentler detour but rather a startling admixture, during “The Crown” and “When They Beg”: the former imbuing subtle harmonic accents into the maelstrom, the latter slipping into rippling, tapped leads. Closing on maybe their softest note yet-- a patiently arpeggiated dirge-- Gaza don’t experiment at great lengths, but what they glean from the upper neck buries a downtrodden complexion within their relatively explicit, rhythmically dense onset.
[Buy No Absolutes in Human Suffering from Black Market Activities]