Must have been Fate

The members of Fate spent their summer vacation expressing the anguish of our times.

The members of Fate spent their summer vacation expressing the anguish of our times.

I have to admit that most of the new metal/hardcore bands just make me sleepy. Indeed, I’m terribly old to be discussing such bands at all. When one examines the audience demographic at local shows, it’s clear that this is music meant for and enjoyed by teenagers. I fit more squarely in the demographic of the parents clustered along the back wall, covering their ears in horror.

Some writers call this music “screamo.” The word is a clever combination of emo (usually heavy music, but with more personally focused lyrics—think of Fugazi as one of the first) and the kind of wordless Cookie Monster screaming of progressive/speed/death metal. The screamo song formula runs something like this: tender part, screaming part, tender part, screaming part, really big screaming part and then out. As with any musical genre, the clichés became solidified pretty quickly, so that, at least to this listener, the difference between bands often seems superficial at best.

It was with great surprise, then, that I stumbled into The Boardwalk last Wednesday pushing my walker before me, oxygen tank dragging behind, and happened to catch a band I had never heard of. “Fate” is perhaps not the most original band name, but the music itself was original—a blend of prog rock, screamo (less emo and more screaming), speed metal and hardcore. The kicker was that the median age of the members of Fate is about 16 years old, with the youngest member checking in at a wizened 14.

The superstar among them is one of the newest members. Dan Espinosa is a lightning-fast double-kicker. His drum skills are amazing, particularly in light of his age (16). A steady, crumbling explosion of sound emanated repeatedly from his kit. Drum rolls started with his sticks and continued with his feet. It was enough for me to bang my walker on the dance floor. Yee haw!

But what makes Fate more interesting than some other screamo acts is not the ages of the band members or its stellar drummer, but the weirdly progressive structures of the songs themselves. Take “You Look So Pretty With a Knife In Your Back,” the closing song of the band’s new EP as well as its recent Boardwalk show. The typical song structure of screamo (loud-quiet-loud-quiet-etc.) is cut up into so many different variations as to become almost irrelevant. It also might be noted that the recorded version is more than 13 minutes long and finishes with a long, weird collection of electronic noises. There’s no apparent reason for it, but at least Fate is trying to push the status quo.

In a field of sound-alike screamo bands, it is rare to come upon a band like Fate—young, talented and apparently motivated. The collected talents of Justin Krahn (lead singer), Dominic Gorski (bass), Tyler Kauffman (lead guitar), Kyle Fishman (guitar) and Espinosa are certainly worth checking out—even if you don’t necessarily like the genre.