Varials In Darkness (2019)

Believe me when I say that I used to love metalcore, and to a greater extent, hardcore. I grew up with all of it, went to local shows, and traveled far and wide to snag a ticket for shows close to selling out tiny venues. I think I gave so much time and faith to the genres because of what they “stood” for, which is, invariably, not really anything to write home about usually. Hardcore is different. It’s passionate, political, and typically more genuine and fun. I can’t listen to metalcore anymore, but every so often I’ll come across up-and-coming hardcore acts that spur on enticing new iterations of a trite, overused wheel.

This week’s effort, however, doesn’t fulfill those expectations. “In Darkness,” the sophomore LP by hardcore band Varials, echoes the aggression of their first outing, “Pain Again” with little to add to the genre. In fact, it’s difficult to even consider this a hardcore record at points, because the formulas and song structures are so inherently metalcore. To this degree, it’s hard to feel any sense of passion. Tonally, it’s larger in scope, full of sludge, and less one-dimensional, but over the course of fifteen tracks, this equates to one continuous drivel of a breakdown.

Perhaps I’m tired. Perhaps the problem, too, is of expectation. When I think of outgrowing music, I think of my friends and I who all unironically listened to nu-metal in junior high. It’s the only time I can say, “Those were the days,” but never implied in a longing way. I outgrew Varials after a year the same way I did with the entire genre of metalcore once I finished my associate’s degree a couple years ago. I often quarrel with the meaning of nostalgia, and debate if I should feel remembrance toward all those bands. I debate, but then don’t do anything about it. So what, then, does that say?