First thing’s first: Go to Anchoress’ bandcamp and download this album. It’s free, for one thing. What else do you need to know? Well, I’ll tell you: Anchoress Is Ruining My Life is an incredibly unique and consistent record that seamlessly blends educated politics with diverse musical compositions, on a spectrum between hardcore’s guttural heaviness and melodic complexity.
The lyrics are self-aware, socially conscious, and very relatable as each song takes aim at different issues, all of which are extremely pertinent to current societal phenomena: “The Fuzz” is a fun pop-punk song with a dark twist as it depicts the story of a police officer with a God complex, and “Over / Under“ is an explosion of anger directed at the difficulties of living one’s artistic dream at the expense of struggling to make ends meet. With a fantastic intro comprised of the trotting drums followed by Keenan Federico’s ripping finger-tap guitar riffs, opener “Live, On The Air” is particularly fascinating because it deconstructs the inauthenticity of social media, as vocalist Rob Hoover bellows, “I’m really just putting on a brave face / Inside this crowded and empty place,” and reveals the ugly truth, “The platform is the punchline / It falls flat every time.” One song that especially hits home, literally, is “Closing Up Zhop,” which tells the tale of Vancouver’s own music scene persevering in our tragic war against gentrification. More specifically, Hoover laments the now-deceased all-ages venue/record store Zoo Zhop, as he roars, “This city is trying to close doors / That kids don’t even know they want open yet.”
I can’t put it any other way, the music is brilliant. Even given the sheer amount of energy that’s packed into this record, there is a delicacy within all of the calculated aggression. While Hoover is a powerhouse of a frontman, drummer Chris Lennox-Aasen and bassist Ricky Castanedo-Laredo create anthemic rhythms perfectly set under Federico’s exquisite guitar tracks. Anchoress prove that intricate, sophisticated and equally beautiful melodies can be just as destructive, if not more, than just down-tuning guitars, drowning them in distortion and playing at lightning-speed. I will go so far as to say that, on this album, Anchoress redefine and mold melodic hardcore into their own genre, creating a new standard by combining power, substance, and accessibility, without sacrificing any of the three in favor for another.
Contrary to what you may think, after listening to this album, you will be sure to wholeheartedly say, “Anchoress, thank you for ruining my life.”