There is no denying that Narrows have become a powerhouse to be reckoned with. Call them a “supergroup”, or simply a continuation on the music each member has created with their current and former bands, but Narrows have honed their skills at aggressive and heavy music into something special with Painted. Whereas their first full-length, New Distances, felt like a band just getting to know each other and dipping their toes in the ocean to test the waters, Painted sees the band confidently diving in headfirst.
Right off the opening riffs of “Under The Guillotine”, matched with Dave Berellen’sall too-familiar guttural bellows shows a Narrows that sounds tighter and even more aggressive than before. The pace is set, pummeling you down and proving that Narrows are more than a one-time machine of non-stop viciousness. This continues with two of the more riff-heavy and hard-driving numbers, “TB Positive” and “Absolute Betrayer”, tracks that raise the flag into battle. What exactly are Narrows battling against is anyone’s guess. Maybe the throngs of lame hardcore bands or the naysayers that attempted to detract from them right at the onset of the band.
Halfway through the madness, things slow down to a semi-industrial dark ambient pace with “Greenland”, whose first half would make a musician like cEvin Key proud. The second half of the track treads a more dirge-y and doom metal sound that harkens back to New Distances.
“It’s the Water” starts with Rob Moran’s bassline driving the song forward, while meandering through it and keeping you guessing on where exactly it is going. The song is rhythmically-heavy and brings forth a sound that will create a rumble. Following right up is “Face Paint”, which is already heavy enough, but towards the end, Ryan Frederiksen and Jodie Cox create an urgency with some out of place stop-and-go riffing that effectively carry the song to its end. It’s fitting, not only to the song itself but also its placement in the record. “Final Mass” is a down-tuned and messy piece of snarling anger, and it sounds so good. Painted closes out with “SST”, a slowed down and almost free-Jazz hardcore that would be suitable in a record like Black Flag’s In My Head. I doubt the song title is a coincidence.
Here is what you need to know about Painted: it is the definitive sound of what Narrows are all about. It’s heavy, dirty, and muddy hardcore. But thanks to the combined musicianship, talent, and personal styles of all the members combined, it is beyond whatever tag of aggressive and heavy music we try so hard to place on the band. Painted is what a band coming to terms with their individual legacies sounds like, all the while casting out the old ghosts and moving forward to new and unfamiliar grounds. Narrows finally sound completely comfortable with themselves in creating their own gnarly and brutal sound. Make sure you take the time to invest in Painted.