Jesus Piece exceeds expectations on “Only Self”

Cesar Gonzalez – Contributor

“Only Self,” by Jesus Piece of Philadelphia might just be the most devastating hardcore record of 2018.

Something that many hardcore bands are guilty of, is hit-or-miss on their first full-length efforts and not understanding that a record is so much more than just a collection of songs. Granted, if the songs are written well, then the record will still be good, but order of the track- list in a way that makes sense is still very important in creating a cohesive experience that draws the listener in.

Jesus Piece seem to have this idea down pat: the songs on “Only Self,” flow seamlessly from one to the next without ever feeling jagged or unnatural. “Lucid,” into “Workhorse,” and as well as other track to track transitions give the record the feeling of a concept album without explicitly being one, which is rare and fairly impressive given the genre.

Of course, you can’t have a record that makes sense without having some very good songs, and “Only Self” has them in abundance. Tracks like “Dog No Longer,” “Punish,” and lead single “Curse of the Serpent” all continue Jesus Piece’s trademark heavy metal-core, with grinding guitars, pummeling drums and vicious vocals.

One of the strongest aspects of the band’s split with Malice at the Palace was the contrast between vocalist Aaron Heard’s low roar and bassist Anthony Marinaro’s raspy, more traditional hardcore yells. This dynamic is made even stronger on “Only Self,” with some of the highlights of the record coming as a result of Heard and Marinaro’s backand-forth vocal shifts, namely in tracks like “Workhorse” or “Neuroprison.”

It’s also important to mention both “In The Silence” and “II” (along with its preceding counterpart, “I”), the former of which is a doom-tinged piece of metallic hardcore that is legitimately chill inducing. With its constant shift between slowly picked notes as Heard growls – almost painfully at times – in the background, semi-melodic chord progressions, and as usual Jesus Piece is showing their ability to craft a song that does as much as it can without being riff salad and without being a boring chug- fest. The latter, “II”, is something more resembling modern doom stalwarts Primitive Man than anything relating to hardcore music, with slow, droning chords that border on malicious intent, closing out the record perfectly.

“Only Self,” is likely the most devastatingly heavy record of 2018. Many hardcore bands often either fall flat on their face when attempting to write a record longer than five songs. Or sometimes they fall just short of the greatness they could achieve with some greater refining, perhaps even more disappointingly. Jesus Piece bucks this trend with a full-length release far and beyond all expectations.

Rating: 9.5/10

For Fans Of: Knocked Loose, Vein, Crowbar, Primitive Man

Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson


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