Do It With A Smile — the debut full-length album from the Nashville hardcore crew Thirdface, which is available now via Exploding In Sound Records — quakes with grimy, grueling rage.
The album is, without a doubt, electric, but interestingly, Thirdface have crafted the journey around a rather personalized feeling.
The dynamic range on the album helps — from the lightning strike rhythms and staggeredly pummeling riffs on “Customary” and “Local” to the ominous atmosphere-oriented segments on “Ally” and “Villains!” — but there’s also a real personal-feeling touch in the foundational rhythms. The slower pace on “Villains!” in particular spotlights this element of the record — the rhythms are grueling, and they seem to capture feelings of raw desperation.
There’s a menacing fullness in the sound, which feels — at least from one angle — like a sonic freight train. The group’s version of hardcore feels abrasive, and all of the components of the instrumentals add to the roaring and confrontational feel, from the thunder-crack drums to the flamethrower riffs. Vocalist Kathryn Edwards’s performances add fierce and ragged screams to the bracing mix.
The sheer intensity of the music helps broaden the impact, because it’s seriously wild. Even during its most intense moments, though, Do It With A Smile doesn’t feel unreachable, like a storm spinning at a distance. The album’s central perspective feels like it’s smack dab in the middle of that raging storm — it is, quite simply, intense.
Catharsis doesn’t exactly feel like an overriding theme of this Thirdface effort, especially in any sort of conclusive sense – it literally ends with a song called “No Relief,” and that’s the vibe here.
The music, which always feels gripping, barely ever stops moving, and there’s not really space to marinate in any kind of extended period of self-contemplation. Still, there’s a very definite level of fist-pumping energy here, and the music would no doubt be rather awesome in a live setting, as it’s both striking and invigorating.
When the album slows a bit, like on some of “Legendary Suffering” with its snaking riffs and crashing low-end, that gut-rattling energy feels particularly pronounced, like suddenly getting thrown into fierce wind. “No Relief,” which closes the album and ends with its title repeated as a refrain, also features some slower vibes, but the music remains eminently forceful.
The dynamism of the rhythms makes the album feel, though, like a richly poignant piece of personal expression, and in a rather expert way, Thirdface feel like they’ve quite powerfully captured some of the excruciating tension that can accompany a basic level of self-expression under present social circumstances. The fiery sound feels rather broad and immersive, so the reflected tension includes both inward struggles and outward pressures.
Ultimately, Do It With A Smile feels like a fierce musical statement of self-assertion in the face of a tenuous feeling that the world, in a metaphorical sense, is closing in. Amidst the tension, that inward power continues, and it’s awesome.
Purchase this album at this link.