Just on the excellent, opening trio, musical Shadows Fall from acts like of Poison The Well, It Dies Today, Haste The Day, Hopesfall, and Norma Jean. “Our Distress Entwined” alone feels like a reincarnation of the years 2002-2004—all choppy, hardcore energy and melodeath riffs encircling some excellent breakdowns.

Then, “Last Tango in Paris” sounds like The Agony Scene playing a lost Eighteen Visions jam, while “Syncophant” has some truly tasty, Swedish riffs and a Christcore -circa-2005 breakdown. Point of fact that (though I admire them), “Nietzsche is Dead” sounds more like Norma Jean than they have since Bless the Martyr ..

Even the record’s themes feel like a smart take on retro ideas. While on the surface, the lyrics may come across as goth-y and heart-on-the-sleeve, they belie a meta touch. Wristmeetrazor play with expectations by observing heartbreak through a philosophical lens. Themes of psychology, sociology, and the patterns we put ourselves through are filtered through vocalist Justin Fornof’s greater sense of purpose and perspective. You’ll still get to scream along to the heartbreak, but there’s more to chew on than you initially think.

I said part of the fun above because honestly, the best part about Replica of a Strange Love is just how smart and savvy this record is at conveying the best parts of a lost metalcore era. Every song carries a unique vibe and edge, upping the melodic, heavy, or experimental ante in one way or another, tinkering with their sound on each track.

The reason it’s such a successful record is not because it pulls at my nostalgic heart strings, but because of how it takes a known playbook at messes with it. As someone who literally grew up with this music, it’s a huge credit to Wristmeetrazor that I am constantly, wonderfully surprised from track to track. Metalcore didn’t need to go meta, but Wristmeetrazor have found a masterful way to do so.

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