Label: Truthseeker Music
Excitation Thresholds is not an easy listen. The debut album from London band Yards is an unsettling, anxious slice of modern hardcore, conjuring that same sense of restless doubt as Converge did with You Fail Me. This is not an album that is concerned with making the listener comfortable, or even on providing an inherently enjoyable time, but instead on providing a sonic journey of hurt and pain. Yet as difficult a listen it can be, Excitation Thresholds has a certain charm to it, and an almost primal sense of catharsis offered within its ten tracks.
Whilst You Fail Me is a clear point of reference for Excitation Thresholds, that comparison only tells part of the story. Even as the guitars dart in and out, riffs leaving impressions like stab wounds, there is a kind of swagger to them that recalls Some Girls, and small moments of grace and deft technical proficiency amidst the crushing heaviness of tracks like ‘Everything You Love Reduced To Rubble’ that’s reminiscent of early Mastodon. Praise also has to be given to penultimate track ‘Bail Recommendation’, with its use of vocal effects that raise the anxiety to new levels, and the creative guitar lines in the background. Even though Excitation Thresholds has a lot of pain and fury to its sound, there’s enough depth here to keep it interesting once the initial rush of adrenaline has worn off.
Even so, this is not a record to be casually listened to. The hurt that the album puts across is too raw and violent to be ignored – especially in the vocals – meaning that you either have to fully empathise with it, or be sucked in to its pit of negativity. Listening to it casually is a good way to ruin your mood, but if you’re in the right (or wrong, depending on perspective) place for it, Excitation Thresholds is bound to provide what you need to help lift you out of your negativity.
Yet as challenging as it is, it is hard not to be impressed by Excitation Thresholds. This is an album full of confidence in its own abilities, that is as exciting as it is dark. It is also an album to be respected; such is its emotional power, it can ruin your day if not approached in the proper frame of mind. Yet if you find yourself in a mood where everything is different shades of black, and you need something that sounds as if it was created under those same conditions, Excitation Thresholds is just what you’re looking for. I dread to imagine how potent these songs are live, because on record, they are utterly destructive.