Ambient, intricately programmed synth. Weaving guitar melodies which morph into stuttering start-stop breakdowns. Toggled harsh-clean-harsh vocal styles. Solid, but expected above-average drumming. Aside an uncomfortable percentage of Rise Records’ roster, it would seem like I’ve more-or-less transcribed a passage from the “how to be a hit in your local scene” handbook. While Provoke, Destroy do fully utilize all these cookie-cutter elements in their EP Rosewell, the product resonates more strongly than its peers. What differentiates the Virginian six-piece’s effort from those of their contemporaries isn’t so much the pieces arranging the puzzle that is their sound, but the image that puzzle forms, and how tightly each piece fits together.
Let’s be real for a second: How many times have you clicked on a band with an edgy name while browsing Facebook (probably even prematurely “liking” their page to gain access to a single or two) thinking “Gee, this can’t possibly be another cookie-cutter post-hardcore-turned-metalcore band! I’ll love it for sure!” only to barely make it halfway through a song before collapsing into a slumber from boredom, or hurdling into a blind rage from your own gullibility? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably a number high enough to suggest a trend: either I’m catatonic, have anger management issues, or there are an inordinate number of bands copy-and-pasting the same “straight-to-scenedom-supremacy” recipe. That’s why I was skeptical when giving Rosewell a listen. “Certainly,” I thought to myself. “Certainly, I am headed straight for disappointment.” I couldn’t have been more wrong, as Provoke, Destroy taught me a lesson on the ins-and-outs of properly blended melodic metalcore and aggressive post-hardcore.
Starting with “Asylum,” Provoke, Destroy create a groove-laden, aggressive atmosphere which is punctuated with melodic, catchy segments. I know, I know, nothing you haven’t heard before, right? Wrong. While tracks like the EP’s namesake, “Rosewell” don’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, they display a band functioning in perfect unison, walking a careful line between their two influences, and utilizing both ideally. With the grinding metalcore breakdown and groove, and the crooning vocal interludes and loopy, intricate guitar of post-hardcore, Rosewell has a little something for everyone. The punchy drums provide stellar punctuation to segments and breakdowns which might be otherwise dull, complementing the ambient, mood-setting keys and electronics with speedy fills and flashy time-changes. These two elements combine to create a field in which the guitars and vocals can frolic–with the riffs roaming anywhere they please, forcing the bipolar scream-sing vocal combination to follow. In this manner, the instrumentation and vocals function as a one-two punch: The instruments set up atmosphere which leads to a climax–often a stuttering or sludgy breakdown–and lets the vocals reach out and finish off the listener with a firm five-finger sandwich straight to the face.
Even in spite of the EP’s cohesion, it doesn’t take long for the listener to catch on that while everything Provoke, Destroy do, they do well–that it’s still been nearly done to death. Ultimately, Rosewell’s brevity and stand-out moments in every track keep the cookie-cutter nature of the genre from getting grating. The mere five tracks allow the band to creatively display what it is they have to offer, permitting each track to fully incorporate elements from their collective influences without getting overzealous or, conversely, uninspired. In this way, Provoke, Destroy create their own feel–even if it’s the feel of a band still searching for a sound that is truly theirs.
In many ways, Provoke, Destroy’s “Rosewell” is a prime example of a product greater than the sum of its parts. While it’s made up of elements which, on their own would be generic and monotonous, as a sum of those parts, it shines. The EP is much like a puzzle: in pieces, inscrutable and “same-y,” but, when viewed in completion and from afar, it has its distinct strength and image. A puzzle, yes, even if it is the same puzzle some of us have been doing since 5th grade.