Release Date: Jul 10, 2015
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Emo, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Post-Hardcore, Post-Rock, Punk/New Wave, Hardcore Punk, Screamo
There are some bands that create worlds, remarkable and immersive, for you to spend years in. Enjoying their art, enjoying their culture, enjoying their overall outlook on life. However, few create worlds as unique as Envy. Atheistâ€™s Cornea returns the band to their more aggressive roots and finds them deep-seated in a noisy atmosphere that is as cerebral as it is head-banging.
Japanese noiseniks Envy have been at it for 23 years now, and their latest LP is something of a masterclass in the dramatic and the dynamic. After a disarmingly sweet 20-second intro, opener Blue Moonlight blasts the doors off with a dense wall of guitar noise and unrelenting screamed vocals. Elsewhere, vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa’s pipes are smooth, such as on the post-rock Mogwai-ism of Shining Finger; poetic (Your Heart And My Hand); or viscerally alternating between pleading and sky-cracking, heartrending growling, as on the excellent album closer Two Isolated Souls.
When Envy began to veer from thrash-punk into less rigid forms of post-rock, post-hardcore, post-punk, post-whatever, it wasn’t an easy pill for fans to swallow. Some thought that Envy’s days as a forward-thinking rock band were gone, that they were satisfied to do a victory lap by guesting on a Mogwai track or releasing a split with Thursday rather than try new things. Time will prove those listeners wrong; after all, both collaborations were new things for a Japanese group that started out chugging power chords at a breakneck pace.
Atheist's Cornea is Japanese quintet Envy's shortest full-length since their beginnings as a hardcore band in the early '90s, and it's easily their most direct album since they began stretching out their sound toward resembling the type of cinematic post-rock that easily brought them to the attention of Temporary Residence and Mogwai's Rock Action label. The album's eight songs are typically hard, epic, and anthemic, alternating quiet, reflective moments with bright, melodic guitars and crashing drums. Similarly, vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa switches between frenzied screaming, spoken poetry, and mournful crooning.
Atheist’s Cornea arrives after the longest break between Envy albums, but that’s immaterial—the Japanese post-hardcore titans have reached a point of being so embedded within their genre that they can disappear without really going away. Their splits with Thursday and Jesu are crucial documents of post-hardcore diplomacy as is their working relationship with Mogwai, reaching out towards post-rock, metal, and emo. Bands that incorporate some combination of those elements—Deafheaven, Touché Amoré, Mono, to name a few—sing their praises.
Review Summary: Envy are a dead sinking story.When was the last time you actually thought about Envy? I don’t mean that as in the last time you listened to their music, but rather, when you remembered that they were an actual band. If you’re like me it’s been, well, five years. Which of course was when their last album, Recitation dropped to lukewarm reception.
There was a time when Envy were tremendously exciting. From their energetic hardcore/thrash roots, committed to tape in the form of their inconsistent but at times furiously enjoyable early releases, to the evocative emotional 'post-screamo' sound they adopted from 2001’s All the Footprints You’ve Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead onwards, Envy were always dynamic enough to engage. Even as an increasing tendency towards noodling atmospherics threatened to overbalance the group’s sound by the time of 2007’s ]Insomniac Doze, Envy remained a distinctly captivating outfit.