Fotocrime South Of Heaven As a purely conceptual thing, South of Heaven dropping in the first week of the end of the world makes for an on-the-nose fanzine ad tagline. In this case, it’s also an unfortunate reality. After more than a decade grinding out progressively complex heavy music in Coliseum, Ryan Patterson (now “R.”) launched Fotocrime as a solo project in 2017. The first EP and LP (2018’s Principle Of Pain) were solid, if meandering outgrowths of increasing new wave influences as Coliseum simultaneously wound down and found their voice. Touring behind those releases, first with a full band and then solo, Fotocrime seems to have evolved from “solo project” to just project. Most of side A seems purpose-built as more grower than shower, mid-tempo and seemingly meandering. On the first few listens, the songs seem like a setup, if not a test to split the room. But the lack of gimmicks, tempo swings or dynamics pays off; a

long game that’s obvious by “Up Above the World.” The core elements of what makes Fotocrime converge: bass tone and finesse complimented by synth lines and drum machines that are mechanical but not stiff. The mix is clear and fully-formed, but not sterile or half-full. Side B kicks off with “Never Fall Out of Love,” opening with a quick, persistent beat and an immediate contrast. What’s carefully established early in the record is quickly harvested. “Expulsion From Paradise” has an angsty snap to both drums and vocals; the closest thing here to latter-day Coliseum. “Blue Smoke” lands as the most direct statement on the record, a post-hardcore reading of peak DEVO: deceptively deep and relentlessly melodic. South Of Heaven by FOTOCRIME Conceptual and cute are too often cousins, but three years in Fotocrime is fully complete without any winking or nodding. The sweat equity is clear all over South of Heaven. There are collaborations throughout, including with frequent collaborators (and…

Frail Hands parted/departed/apart Already on their third LP since 2017, Frail Hands hail from the post-hardcore hotbed of (checks notes) Halifax, Nova Scotia. I happened upon their self-titled debut; a brief, frantic and nimble take on whichever wave of screamo we’re currently on. It fit the template in the best ways, while managing to be more memorable than most. Following a split with LA’s Ghost Spirit, Frail Hands are back with parted/departed/apart, representing obvious growth without qualifying as a departure. First, original vocalist Dawn Almeda retired from the band “due to vocal strain,” which is both unfortunate and instructive. The existing members absorbed vocal duties, stylistically similar but slightly less harsh and immediate. The same can

be said for the songs overall, drifting from a previous average of 90 seconds and ticking up near two minutes. parted/departed/apart by FRAIL HANDS Marginally longer songs and less harsh vocals may bum out the last few existing skramz purists, but Frail Hands’ expansion is all for the better. The result is equal parts dread and panic, an elusive and seemingly accidental balance. It adds range and staying power to a set of influences not generally known for either. “Nothing Said” is an immediate highlight, with bursts of micro-breakdowns and chaotic arpeggios bent into a near-perfect two-minute arc. "Mirrored Limbs" brings a similar mix of persistence and variety, barrelling forward without blurring together. Twelve Gauge Records