By Liam Syrvalin, Contributor
[Pure Noise Records, 2022]
Key Tracks: (all of them but) “Thoughts and Prayers”, “A Decision, Commitment to Self“
Whenever I talk about music with other people, I always tell them to give hardcore albums a chance. Louisville straight-edge hardcore band Inclination’s new album Unaltered Perspective is a perfect example of why these albums need to be given a chance. The band’s “drug-free proclamation” has an extremely coherent and well-crafted voice in this project, with rage and motivation that is only matched by the blaring guitars and guttural yet inspiring vocals.
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Unaltered Perspective opens with a somber title track, containing a minute and a half of trance-like acoustic riffs accompanied by a spoken word verse. Vocalist Tyler Short speaks on the meaning of the album, and the meaning of straight edge as a whole, to Inclination, before leading into a brazen opening riff on “Epidemic”. The band quickly gets you used to both the pace and the theme of the album on this track, pairing the brutal breakdowns with accusations towards Big Pharma and the government as a whole concerning the war on drugs.
“Thoughts and Prayers” comes as a bone-chilling third song in Unaltered Perspective. The gruesome riffs and disgusting beat-changes alone are enough to inspire mass violence, let alone the worldview Inclination depicts in the lyrics. In an interview done with Brooklyn Vegan, Short said that “I wrote ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ because I was sick of watching the people who have been elected to power in this country more or less stand idly by as the community I live in, as well as countless others, are ripped apart by a drug epidemic. … Thoughts and prayers can’t fix the backbreaking labor or economic anxiety that hangs around the working classes’ neck 52 weeks a year but as long as healthcare is allowed to run as a for-profit enterprise those existential problems have no incentivized solution.”
“A Decision” serves as an extremely personal story for Short and the rest of Inclination, delving deep into the personal issues behind why he chose to be straight-edge. Cutting lines such as “once you bury your friends, it really tears you apart” give an immense amount of emotion to the kicking track, and paints a personal story that strikes a chord for many. The track closes with a reminder of what the members of Inclination and many other straight-edge individuals dedicate themselves to and the personal growth and fulfillment that comes with it.
The last and longest track on the album, “Commitment to Self,” is a perfect wrap-up of the narrative of Unaltered Perspective. Short shows vulnerability in this 5-minute closer that is rarely seen in the rest of Inclination’s discography, yet shows so much strength, fortitude, and determination that it could possibly be the best workout song ever. Lyrics like, “weakness doesn’t have to produce shame,” “when it comes to my life I won’t be a bystander,” and “I deserve a dignified existence” is a chilling conclusion to an album surrounding the crisis of addiction. Hearing the acoustic guitar riff that opened Unaltered Perspective at the end of the record feels like closing the cover on a great novel.
Unaltered Perspective is a truly beautiful display of rage and discontentment in the 21st century. Inclination has always been known as a straight-edge powerhouse in the hardcore scene, but this album proves that the band is so much more than just an opening act. So many little details are done right in this album that it would take an entire week to fully examine the project. The most impactful detail for me, however, was that the meaning of the album doesn’t have to be guessed.
“The world around us is designed to keep us distracted, subdued and divided.
Those among us who are active, conscious and united are deemed a threat to the status quo.
This is about outrage.
This is about the pain of loss and the power of connection.
This is about existing contrary to norms.
This is about strength and self determination.
This is an unaltered perspective.”