The Austerity Program: Beyond Calculation
(Controlled Burn, 6/17/14)
Using a drum machine may not fit the purist’s idea of heavy music. It’s calculated, precise, mathematical—no soul. But just as its industrial and post-hardcore forerunners of the 1980s (Ministry, Big Black, et al), mathy two-piece The Austerity Program proves with its latest LP, Beyond Calculation, just how wrong those purists are.
On another batch of songs with numbered names, bassist Thad Calabrese and guitarist/vocalist Justin Foley let their instruments rage over a range of mechanical beats. “Song 30,” a chase of a song that displays the full intelligence of their drum programming, tells the story of a parasitic friend named Jacob and climaxes in shouted expressions of his rage. “Song 32” gets more than halfway through its run before vocals kick in; the final seconds are a speeding storm of guitar, bass, and medical-grade drumming. And album closer “Song 37” is a slow-building defiance from a man who has had enough.
The Austerity Program has populated its latest with interesting, outcast characters, the kind usually encountered on a Nick Cave or Mountain Goats release. Here, though, they take what already would be math-metal glory and give it that little bit extra that makes a record truly special.