January 8, 2015 Finch – Back to Oblivion (Album Review)
Before the threat of the Punk Rock attitude was blunted and painted over in corporate colors, Washington, D.C. produced one of the most auspicious beasts the genre had seen: Emotive Hardcore. Emotive Hardcore was more or less created with the formation of Rites of Spring in 1984. Shortly afterwards, Embrace, Dag Nasty, Beefeater, and Gray Matter would contribute to assist in the genre’s longevity. Throughout its decades-long lifespan, Emotive Hardcore, often shortened to EmoCore (and even more often shortened to Emo), has had many variations, and several scenes have emerged internationally. Emo’s popularity reached its peak in the early 2000s, when the genre took a sharp left turn into the mainstream, thanks to bands like Thursday, Thrice, and Alexisonfire. Emo became a bastion for those with bleeding hearts and black hair dye. California’s Finch helped carry the banner for the newly recognized style of Post-Hardcore. Finch’s critically acclaimed debut album, What It Is to Burn, helped to propel the band into the public eye in 2002, boasting singles such as “Letters to You” and “New Beginnings,” as well as the title track. The follow-up album, Say Hello to Sunshine (2005), had more ferocity built into it. Vocalist Nate Barcalow and guitarists Randy Strohmeyer and Alex Linares refused to compromise, baring their teeth as Hardcore musicians before all else. The second half of the decade was not kind to Finch, and the band stayed silent, with exception for a couple of EPs and a live album, until 2014 with the album Back to Oblivion released on Razor & Tie.
Finch may have gone from breaking up with their girlfriends to breaking up with their bandmates, but the angst has remained consistent. Finch’s uniquely catchy driving power from What It Is to Burn is palpable on Back to Oblivion, particularly on “Murder Me,” “The Great Divide,” and the title track. “Back to Oblivion,” the first single, sports the strongest groove and the biggest earworm on the album. Finch also revisited the sounds they explored on Say Hello to Sunshine with the song “Two Guns to the Temple,” which is the dirtiest display of raw Hardcore on the album. It is interesting hearing the new musical territory Finch has been delving into, as well. “Us Vs. Them” and “Tarot” come quite close to the realm of Alternative Rock, while “Further from the Few” harkens back to classic Dischord Records-era Post-Hardcore. An Emo record would not be an Emo record without a healthy dose of self-aware camp and cheesy melodrama, which is supplied as per doctor’s orders on Back to Oblivion. “Play Dead” and “Inferium” will certainly indulge longtime Finch fans in this area.
Back to Oblivion is a well-rounded, no surprises Emo record. Finch returned to deliver fans a product deserving of the Finch name. Angst, aggression, emotion, and all other elements that make up a good record of the genre are present. Absolutely a worthy listen to any fan of the band and genre. CrypticRock gives Back to Oblivion 3 out of 5 stars.