Review: Anchord, Anchord (Saltamarges, 2014)

The latest from the Saltamarges label is the debut self-titled full-length from Girona, Spain's Anchord—a stellar fusion of emo, melodic hardcore, and hints of pop-punk that the label describes as a "mix between Grown Ups and Title Fight." It strikes me as more comparable to Grown Ups in terms of songwriting and approach, though definitely boasting a harder-hitting sound that's heavier and slightly more energetic—reminiscent of bands like Mountain Asleep, In Between, etc.

It's pretty straightforward, and there's not a ton of variety, but who needs it? You've got nine great songs in less than a half-hour that are catchy without being sappy or overproduced. The slightly rawer and more jangly emo characteristics fuse with the energetic pace of the hardcore/punk influences, and the vocals are "yelled singing" with tons of heartfelt group backups (everyone in the band contributes vocals, and that constant interplay really adds to the impact).

"Untangible Intentions" breaks out some classic octave chords accented by cool arpeggiated melodies and thicker, more open chord phrasings than your average pop-punk type of track; "Slfshlndlrdycntfght" is slightly slower, with brighter melodies and a few unexpected fits of back-and-forth panning; great vocal tradeoffs abound in "Dive Around", getting slightly more aggressive at times; and "Unlucky 18" dishes out lots of note-based melodies that I guess you could refer to as "lightly metallic," even in this context.

Production-wise the rugged, jangly emo side of things keeps the distortion sort of half-cocked but still feeling full, so there's an endearing crudeness to some of the melodies, and it also gives the basslines plenty of room to breathe. There's a raw warmth, but it's still clean and punchy with a balanced mix. You really couldn't ask for much more from this style.

All too often I find myself questioning whether or not a band would be more "successful" were they from the US, which shouldn't matter in the least, but... Anchord absolutely deserves far more attention. I used the word "heartfelt" earlier, and that's exactly what it is: just good, genuine hardcore/punk-tinged emo with driving intensity. And it's available as a name your price download on Bandcamp, so there's no reason not to give 'em a chance. For fans of this general niche, this is mandatory.

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