Saturday, 23 August 2008

Ampere - All Our Tomorrows End Today & Split w/Sinaloa

"Young hearts don't always beat to standard verse & chorus", and that is certainly the case with Ampere themselves. Featuring alumni of the much-celebrated Orchid, they are one of the very finest bands currently active in the emotional hardcore scene, outstripping even their previous bands in terms of technicality, intelligence and impact. Those familiar with Orchid will be able to expect a logical progression in sound and extremity: the almost grindcore-like intensity and short song lengths leave no room for breath, the chaotic but intricate guitar lines grab you by the throat and the singer packs in as much lyrical wisdom into one song as he possibly can.

The band's most solid release to date is the full-length (if you can call it that, featuring 11 songs and lasting 10 minutes) All Our Tomorrows End Today. Opener 'Remain Unadapted' is the ultimate statement of intent at only 24 seconds, and the subsequent two songs, while increasing in length, still last under 45 seconds each. It is only at the fourth track that the real standout of the album is dropped: 'Woodlawn', the album's longest track at (gasp) nearly two minutes, is a powerful song about the loss of a close friend or relative that still haunts the singer. The culmination of the song, to me, is the part that is, interestingly, not written in the lyrics, where the singer screams "we have lost you" desperately, over and over again. The rest of the album from there onwards is, with the exception of the interlude 'The Old World is Behind Us', a barrage of more short, to-the-point outbursts, culminating with 'In Memoriam', a homage to the french situationists of the 1960s. My favourite thing about Ampere, as with many of my favourite hardcore bands, is the lyrics. They are full of a kind of confrontational, youthful spirit that seldom found in many current bands. Some may call them preachy or pretentious, but the thing that I like about Ampere's persistent message is that it essentially boils down to the idea that you should choose your own path in life without using fabricated and impractical ideologies as a crutch. It's an attitude that smacks of being fiercely DIY and punk, and this seems fitting given the likewise extreme musical approach Ampere take. The greatest virtue that they possess is the tendency to not waste any time in expressing an emotion or idea: there is not one note or lyric on the album that is superfluous, and this fact makes All Our Tomorrows a brisk but overwhelmingly affecting listening experience.

"everything we own, we have stolen. we've no regrets. obscurity and clarity collide. we've swallowed down these words for too long. all that is said can be disproved, and all that's not can be upheld. don't be content with being a spectator. speak up and choose a point you've made and expand it. choose a point you've made and destroy it. or critique the critiques. destroy the ironclad."
-Ampere; The Jailors Speak of Freedom

The band's more recent split with Sinaloa is another highlight in their career. It features marginally longer tracks, with four of seven lasting over a minute and two scraping the two-minute mark. Essentially, this is an EP of 'Woodlawn's: the songs here are all extremely powerful and emotional, from 'At Its Heart & At Its Head', a song that expresses the need for hope in the midst of deppression and ruination, to the haunting chord sequences of closer 'In Antiquity'. The 'Woodlawn' reference I make here isn't entirely superficial, either: in my opinion, 'Wormwood, Radiation' is, in subject matter, a continuation of that song. The contrasting lines "there is life here" and "this doesn't get any easier. this is a wound that time can't heal. it leaves a scar" seem, to me, to say that while you can regain perspective and compusure in the years following a loss, it is nevertheless an event that leaves an irreversible mark that one sometimes never fully recovers from. 'We Live Like Lost Children', by contrast, breathes positivity throughout: it is a life-affirming expression of the need to "reject the notion of modeling our patterns on archaic moral codes not in line with our lives", to live by your own standards. The last line of the song really encapsulates the spirit of Ampere: "now is the time to stand back and ask, "are we living the lives that we want?"'

"blood is filling our lungs & the room won't stop spinning. it's only now that we notice the ghosts in the mirror are us. we built these walls. somewhere, choking on words, in some far-off room, away from the fallout, we'll never make it out. and should this room become a morgue, our bed a coffin, our secrets will die with us. so still, so sterile. there are ghosts there, behind the headboard, under sheets. they keep us from sleep. footprints on carpet, and stark white walls keep secrets hid in plain view. and when our buildings topple, we will meet in the wreckage. among ashen remains, we'll be burning ember and we'll not leave any tracks. by sunrise, the wind will displace us. it'll be as if we were never there. and you said that there's not a word to believe in either of our whispured assurances, but we find solace... and we won't forget the sound of ruined gray cities, of shadows, and the silence..."
-Ampere; At Its Heart & At Its Head

(The Sinaloa side is also good but hey, it's Ampere I'm talking about here, right?)