Screamo bands have always had less-than-ideal associations. The genre spawned quite naturally out of the late-1980s emo scene, slowly growing into emo’s more angular and abrasive counterpart. Over the years, the term shifted, becoming synonymous with Victory Records-style acts from the early aughts. However, the genre’s progenitors continued to be influential to small contingents within the hardcore community, ensuring that this sound would never become obsolete.
Formed in 2005, San Francisco’s Loma Prieta channeled the angst and aggression of early screamo acts, quickly proving itself to the hardcore scene. The songs that comprised Our LP is Your EP were direct, pointed efforts that bared all of screamo’s signatures—loud-quiet dynamics, blast beats and indecipherable screams. Not content to become mere revivalists, Loma Prieta spent years—and several albums—honing its sound into something wholly unique.
I.V., the band’s first release for Deathwish Inc., showcases just how powerful the group has become in that time. Each new full-length the four-piece released saw it progress in one manner or another, but I.V. is a compelling case as to why Loma Prieta may be one of hardcore’s best acts.
“Fly By Night,” the album’s heavily distorted opener, sees Loma Prieta shying away from genre conventions. Instead of jagged loud-quiet transitions, it goes straight for the gut. The track’s discordant hardcore is an abrupt declaration, but it is the song’s culmination that is most interesting. The guitars pull back, creating a lighter melodic line that is about as catchy as anything on a modern pop-punk album. It is an unexpected shift from the quartet, but one that shows Loma Prieta has pushed itself into a new dimension.
At only 25 minutes in length, I.V. makes use of each precious second, never allowing itself room to falter. When the band is on the attack—which is more often than not—it bleeds tracks into one another, keeping the listener from ever being able to take a breath. Each of the 12 songs on I.V. strikes a balance between musical complexity and focused bursts of energy. It’s something evinced in the lyrics as well. On “Trilogy 5 ‘Half Cross’” the impassioned screams of, “I’m closed for business you fucking idiots,” and, “I don’t believe in shit,” find ways to encapsulate everything about Loma Prieta.
There is not a moment of I.V. that feels purposeless or meandering. The riffs are perhaps the heaviest they’ve ever been, and Jack Shirley’s mix gives great balance to a group that used to get lost when transitioning between stylistic approaches. I.V. is, by far, Loma Prieta’s best work to date. The group has been a well-kept secret for years, but I.V. proves that they will soon be on everyone’s radar—and with good reason.
Loma Prieta – I.V. tracklist:
- “Fly By Night”
- “Torn Portrait”
- “Trilogy 4 ‘Momentary’”
- “Trilogy 5 ‘Half Cross’”
- “Trilogy 6 ‘Forgetting’”
- “Aside from This Distant Shadow, There Is Nothing Left”
- “Diamond Tooth”