Hardcore remains as difficult as ever to get a significant foothold in, and with just as many new bands coming out to make a name for themselves, it’s becoming more and more important to sort out those who could really do something huge, and who will most likely end up falling behind. With Bournemouth / Southampton quintet I, The Mapmaker then, they’ve at least got the benefit of slight notoriety from an enigmatic online presence, but debut EP Searching will be what ultimately proves them to be a worthy proposition.
And there’s definitely something there, that’s for sure. From the very first track Ghostwalker, it’s ridiculously easy to pinpoint I, The Mapmaker’s location on hardcore’s, well, map – melodic yet visceral and shaded in various blacks and greys, falling alongside bands like Casey, Touché Amoré and the like. And considering that’s been the go-to when it comes to recent, hyped hardcore bands, I, The Mapmaker aren’t exactly revolutionising the sound or doing anything we’ve not heard before. Sure, Employed To Serve’s Justine Jones brings an extra helping of vicious, gnashing savagery to Disbelief, but beyond that, Searching does feel kind of safe in its execution, falling in line when it could really afford to leap out.
That’s not to say that this is a band without merit though, because that’s far from the case. For one, the grief that fuels Ash Emery’s vocals is definitely palpable, and from the sense of self-doubt on Ghostwalker and broken relationships on the title track, to the loss of his grandmother on 1933, the emotional core is just as strong as any of the bands that clearly influence them. Alongside the tumultuous, open post-hardcore instrumentation that’s so often a selling point of this sort of thing, Searching is a perfectly adequate jumping-off point for I, The Mapmaker to carry on from.
Still, it would be nice to see them try something a bit different right out the gate, and even though it’s by no means bad, a rather run-of-the-mill first effort isn’t going to spark that much long term interest. There’s definitely room to grow here, and credit to them for leaving the space for that to happen, but on its own, Searching falls somewhere between average and pretty decent on a good day. It’s still worth a look if you’re curious, but even this year, there’s not been a shortage of melodic hardcore done better.
For fans of: Casey, Landscapes, Crooks
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Searching’ by I, The Mapmaker is released on 18th May.