In Atheist’s Cornea, Envy looks back on their long history, takes the brilliant points and pushes themselves outside their comfort zones.
Luckily, the worst part of Envy’s newest offering happens within the first thirty seconds, with a jarring introduction that is out of place. After that, however, listeners get to experience the most mature album the Japanese post-hardcore masters have put out. It’s been a long five years since Recitation was released, and while Atheist’s Cornea clocks in at only 44 minutes, the album is a concise statement of where the band is currently located and where it is headed.
The most gratifying aspect of the album is the confidence that radiates from the songs. There is no hesitation here. When the music is heavy, it is clearly heavy. When it’s soft and melodic, it stays peaceful. This confidence stems from Envy’s refinement of their signature sound, as well as key points of experimentation.
Without a doubt, this is very clearly an Envy album. There is no mistaking Tetsuya’s distinctive vocals and the general style of their melodies. However, in Atheist’s Cornea, Envy took these hallmarks and perfected them. The songs are not dull or repetitive anywhere on this album as has happened on past recordings. These are the sounds that fans have grown to love, and they sound new and fresh here on Atheist’s Cornea.
If Envy had only concentrated on perfecting their form, this album could still have ventured into mundane territory. Lucky, they also pushed outside their comfort zone. The most clear example is Tetsuya’s departure from his usual harsh spoken word style of vocals to clean vocals on “Ticking Time and String“. And unlike in the past, he does not feel uncomfortable or awkward on this track.
All eight tracks feel cohesive together, but also stand strong when reviewed independently.
The last five years have brought an explosion of new talent on the post-hardcore and post-metal scene and it seems like Envy has been paying attention. While nothing on the album feels derivative of their newer peers, the album feels more modern. It’s the masters reminding the students who really knows the best.
The first single, “Ignorant Rain at the End of the World“, also shows a departure from the long melodic tracks of Recitation and harkens back to their harsher hardcore days. Throughout the album, Envy bounces between their older and newer styles, flowing between each effortlessly. All eight tracks feel cohesive together, but also stand strong when reviewed independently.
The most refreshing aspect of this album is the renewed energy within the band. While it may not be identifiable on the album, it can be seen during their live shows. As I stood watching the band in mid-2014, I saw a bored band pushing themselves through old material. However, during their release tour for Atheist’s Cornea, there was a different band standing on stage. They were excited, feeding off the energy of the crowd. Tetsuya beamed on stage, singing confidently, and not hiding like he had just eight months prior.
In Atheist’s Cornea, Envy looks back on their long history, takes the brilliant points and pushes themselves outside their comfort zones. This results in a surprisingly interesting and mature album. But most importantly, this album has sparked a renewed fire into the band, leaving the band themselves excited for the music they’ll make next. (9/10)
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