In some circles, this could easily be seen as one of the most anticipated albums of the year. For anyone who isn’t aware of Minors, that’s not really surprising – their breakout Atrophy was released in mid-December of 2017 to as little fanfare as one might expect – but as far as the most blackened, gruesome hardcore imaginable goes, it’s definitely stood the test of time for those who actually did hear it. And thus, there’s more of a reason to believe that Abject Bodies will go some distance towards rectifying that; the backing from Holy Roar has proven time and time again to be worth its weight in gold at this point, and given the more recent resurgence of bitter, uncompromisingly angry music and the success it’s been having, Minors have landed in an environment that could easily mould them into the force of nature within the scene that’s laid dormant for too long.

But there’s also the other big possibility, where Minors could be reliant on what they’ve done in the past like so many other hardcore bands, and end up with a disappointing second album that tries to recapture the hellfire of their debut only to come up short. And unfortunately, Abject Bodies seems to be a strong argument for Minors being a one-and-done sort of act, especially when so much feels recycled with less to really write home about. What’s especially disappointing is that it definitely feels like Minors have tried to shift the focus of their sound somewhat, doubling down on the ten-tonne doom that was definitely a presence on their debut, but with tracks like Erode dialling the pace and violence back in favour of stalking, seismic evil, or the engulfing, almost melodic passages of Boneyard, it’s a lot more prominent here. But that’s where the first major issue comes in, namely that, when Minors do try to lean back into their ravenous, powerviolence-inspired side, it can feel terribly fragmented in terms of basic album construction, and it leaves Abject Bodies feeling way too bottom-heavy as a result. It’s not like there’s even space to explore such a dichotomy of sounds effectively either; this is another seven-track release falling below the half-hour mark, and while that might have worked when the focus was more on speed and unrelenting darkness, here it can feel awkward and underdeveloped, like two halves welded together with no effort made to hide the seam or even pretend that this is the same project.

It’s not like there’s nothing redeeming about this though, and judged in their individual forms, Minors still come across as a band who aren’t exactly innovating but throw themselves into the work to a consistently admirable degree. It’s probably ideal to picture this album in a live setting to get the most from it, especially when a large part of it feels like a collation of live cuts ready to be unleashed, and that would go down far more smoothly in the sort of setting. After all, Abject Bodies playing to the blackened hardcore ideals feels like a practice best suited to cramped sweatbox environments rather than an album, and whether that’s in the oppressively tight maelstrom of Meanderist or the roaring doom-metal closer Garden Of Dismalism, Minors’ command of intensity definitely has a sense of real weight and power. It’s the same case for the production and lyrics as well; there’s not much beyond the traditionally dirty, seething hellscapes or dark, mistanthropic imagery, but again, in the context of the environment that this will thrive the most in, there’s enough here to at least become invested. Even if Minors do feel like they’re playing it rather safe as far as wide-scale experimentation within hardcore goes, there’s no denying that what they do works on a very primal level, and to detract that would be to unfairly omit the largely point of this album.

Thus, it becomes a bit dicier to definitively state whether Abject Bodies is a success or not. It’s definitely not bad and as far as playing to their strengths goes, Minors can deliver moments of pitch-black thrill in earnest, but as a body of work that’s supposed to be taken as such, it’s a considerable step down from what this band have already proven they’re capable of. It’s definitely a shame, but at the same time, the flickers of hope that come from a potential tightening up in sound next time around are easy to see, especially when each piece is working towards a more interesting whole. How long it’ll take to get there is still an open question, but there’s a lot of faith that, with a bit of refinement, Minors will get there eventually.

6/10

For fans of: Converge, Will Haven, Nails
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘Abject Bodies’ by Minors is released on 22nd February on Holy Roar Records.

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