Unifying Themes Redux (Hydra Head)
by Tim Den
On Unifying Themes Redux, Hydra Head collects all the non-LP/early years pieces of sorely missed tech metalcore greats Botch in one handy package, presenting the massively influential band’s roots and semi-primitive beginnings. Well, “primitive” is a relative term, since Botch were bending the rules of metalcore during the same time that Victory were pumping out stagnant tough guy shit for the jockheads. Even on super early songs such as “Third Part in a Tragedy” and “Closure,” one can hear the mindwarped dissonance and post-millennial anxiety seeping through the otherwise formulaic palm mutes and screams. Cuz even though the band leaned into every predictable breakdown as if brute emotional strength made songs better – and the recording’s handbook early ’90s metalcore (no bottom end, all high mids) – there was something there that hinted at better things to come. The weird sliding riff of “Wounded,” maybe? Or the tangled arpeggios of “In Spite of This”? Regardless, the transformation is complete by the time you get to the last fourth of the disc, as the Botch that most of us know and love rear their formidable heads on the likes of “Liquored Up and Laid” and “Leavers Take on Genesis.” Firing from beautiful yet strangely awkward angles, the pistons of this band – toward the end of their career – had become John Woo-shootout-scene displays of controlled chaos. Heavy, yet never relying on simple “chug chugs,” claustrophobic, yet full of foreboding silences, orgasmic, yet ugly in nature, this is the Botch that made metalcore history with albums like We Are the Romans. Truly innovative, truly inspirational.
Unifying Themes Redux might not be where a newbie should start (pick up the studio full-lengths first), but it’s a great way to top off your Botch collection. Oh, and did I mention that they cover “Rock Lobster” and the theme from Conan the Barbarian? Not necessarily essential pieces of music, but fun nonetheless.