Album Review: We Feel We Are Accomplices by Samarra
This review was originally published in Dust-Up Magazine on September 8, 2017.
By style alone, We Feel We Are Accomplices is a striking if not jarring release. The new three song EP by Samarra is not something one will listen to casually, and listeners probably couldn’t do so even if they tried. Each song eagerly attacks the listener, creating deep cerebral and visceral emotions, both of which will undoubtedly vary depending on the mood and genre predilection of whoever is listening. This shouldn’t be surprising though when you peruse the Bandcamp tags of the release and see “screamo,” “hardcore,” and “emoviolence” all occupying the same space.
But it’s not the music or even the vocals that make this EP particularly jarring and poignant. No, it’s what’s being said, or rather propelled, in the lyrics that cut deep, making the six minute runtime of the EP feel more like an epic undertaking than an engaging preview.
Musically, the band offers plenty of incisive guitar parts bolstered by a tough and tight rhythm section. Like any well-oiled machine, they have plenty of gears to utilize here, often settling for a sludge crawl that can immediately switch into a fiery rage at any moment. In the slower sections, the rhythm section morphs into a sharpening stone with the guitar sliding its notes across for maximum precision. As the pendulum shifts though, the rhythm section and guitars merge together to create a hazy semblance of bedlam that feels chaotic, yet controlled within the confines of each song.
As impressive as the musicians are though, it really is the lyrics that demand the spotlight, from the opening look at agonizing affection to the closing shun of hypocritical iniquities. Profoundly personal and relentless accusatory, the words are vulnerable and raw, penetrating deep into the listener’s core more than the music ever could. “It’s hard to know how to be with someone / When you don’t even know how to be yourself / A little sweetness can mean a lot / But what do you do when it means too much?” Marilyn Drew Necci scowls this over the opening, and standout, track “Fear Of Intimacy,” offering a biting self-critique that most people can never even come close to.
“A Wrinkle In Time” continues the look inward, with a more inspiring, albeit jagged inspirational message, while “Trauma Literature” points its literary barbs in another direction entirely. What helps the power of the words is Necci’s own margin notes for the opening and closing track, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of the second track one bit, with a more ambiguous message having perhaps a broader reach and influence than the other two.
But it’s not just Necci’s words either. It’s also the words of Will Ehn that pellet each song in between Necci’s lyrics, offering his own take on either the lyrical message or sonic tone. When “All flesh / No goal” comes through his staccato shrieks in “Fear Of Intimacy,” it bookends a complimentary take on relationships, both physical and mental, that only enhances the song.
And then there’s “Trauma Literature” raising the ante as Benson Truong joins in and offers his own words. What’s remarkable is how each vocalist/lyricist has their own voice, one that stands out of the chaos and sludge of the music, but also isn’t overshadowed by one another. Each deliver their own signature takedown here: Truong with “your ignorant tongue knows no bounds,” Necci with “Menacing pose communicates cool,” and Ehn with “Romantic male artist, what a tired ideal.” Each give a new face to the collective anger of a scene’s apathy, and open the proverbial closet full of skeletons.
Presented as just words, We Feel We Are Accomplices is an arduous if not liberating release, one worth revisiting when darker emotions sprout up and can’t be ignored any longer. But when you combine them with the fanatical music, howls, and shrieks, it becomes something else entirely. It’s an experience, one that gives new breath to anger, apathy, and skepticism and may just make you rethink what screamo and hardcore can offer you.