My Aim, Heartburn (The Front Agency, 2014)

Heartburn is the impressive debut album from My Aim (who I didn't realize until after the fact are from the H8000 area of Belgium), released via The Front Agency. Now, I don't listen to much "djent"-ish metal, and have always hated the term "djent" (in fact, I think this is the first time I've ever caved in and actually used it), but... I suppose it has grown into somewhat of a legitimate "genre," so the term now means a little more as far as representing a general sound or approach.

Like many such groups, My Aim's style tends to rely on massively chunky staccato rhythms and detuned breakdown grooves, but its fluid melodic accents and overall level of quality tend to be a very good sign. More so than any of the other bands I've stumbled upon from these circles, My Aim strikes me as having the potential to also appeal to more of a metalcore audience—fans of anything from Misery Signals to Shai Hulud, etc.

And I'm way into it.

I guess you could say there's a bit of a darker edge here. The vocals are more aggressive, and lack the silliness that these types of bands often gravitate towards. The vocal direction tends to center around burly hardcore/metalcore shouts with a slight lean towards death metal growls here and there—but no over-the-top gurgling or obnoxiously pristine singing, etc.

In a lot of ways, My Aim succeeds simply by avoiding the failures of their contemporaries. The forceful consistency of the vocals is a big plus, and you can tell they've got chops, but they don't try to show off—the technicality is much more subtle and restrained here, which keeps the songwriting a little more streamlined and straightforward, thus making for a more focused and impactful listening experience. (Check out the short, furious punch of the crushingly heavy and aptly titled "Deadweight," for example.)

"Constants // Variables" is one of the only overtly flashy tracks (perhaps no surprise, since it's an instrumental piece), opening with restrained clean passages and gorgeous soloing before eventually touching on a bit of everything that the band has to offer: the pummeling staccato breaks, interesting picking patterns and dissonant chord phrasings, quick little harmonies and sharp bends/pinch harmonics, dizzying leads, and so on. This sets off a late-album grand slam of the strongest tracks, adding just a hint more energy and catchiness straight through to the close of the album—most notably in the title track and the superb "In Devil's Arms."

Really, though, there's not a bad song herein. As a whole there's not a ton of variety from track to track, but at nine songs in about 32 minutes (one of which is just a glitchy/ambient electronic type of intro) it's not an overbearing listen by any means. What they do, they do very fucking well—enough to where I was pretty enthusiastically excited about checking out the entire album after hearing just one advance track.

I can't help but feel like this band would already be fairly popular if they were from North America. You'd think the power of the internet would start to erase some of those boundaries or limitations in terms of bands being able to get their music out to anyone at any time, so it would be great to see these guys start to gain the attention they deserve. I'm a grumpy old man who's not terribly up to date with what's going on with "the kids" these days, but I see no real reason why this band couldn't be at the level of, say, Intervals or other loosely comparable acts within this general realm of what the youngsters are up to as of late.

Regardless, Heartburn is a great album, and I'll certainly be looking forward to hearing more. If you're curious, I strongly encourage you to check it out, too. You can stream the full album at either YouTube or Bandcamp.

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