Categorizing music that is engulfed in a sea of aggression rather than a meadow of elegance can be difficult, especially with so many negative connotations associated with the prior. When the volume is cranked higher than normal or vocals slip into screaming rather than singing, misinformed listeners can be led to believe that this music less calculated and complex than, say, Sufjan Stevens’s work. A few years ago, bands that weren’t exactly metal but were rougher than typical rock outfits were dumped in the “hardcore” bin. These days there are so many variations of hardcore that the word has lost most of its meaning. Finding the appropriate label for Wires on Fire’s blend of experimental music and hardcore on its debut, Homewrecker, is harder than writing a dissertation on the finer points of Limp Bizkit.
Buddyhead originally released this six-song debut in 2004, and since then this Los Angeles-based quartet has been perfecting its live show, opening for groups such as the Icarus Line, the Dillinger Escape Plan and Pretty Girls Make Graves and catching the eye of the more-fashionable-than-hardcore-yet-tougher-than-indie-rock crowd. Each of Homewrecker’s tracks juxtaposes elements of simple sonic minimalism with explosive fits of screams, pounding drums and squelching guitars. At times the music seems more like math rock than anything, but once Evan Weiss’s vocals burst into screams, the sound quickly grows out of the quiet-explosion category. If anything, Wires on Fire’s style is more akin to that of the late, great Braniac, with quick measures and attitude-drenched vocals that jump around as much as the rhythms.
Still, the twenty-five-minute blast of hardcore-type punk on Homewrecker is a touch unfulfilling. But for what is essentially a well-recorded six-song demo, this is a solid representation of a band that has an original and un-categorizable sound.