I first became aware of MATHS after seeing them play live in a local venue & it was this strong live performance that cemented my interest in the band, it was impossible to look away during the time the band were on stage & since then… well, I haven’t looked away since. “Descent” is MATHS’ first full-length professionally released album, following their blistering split release with THROATS. The album could certainly be described as a breakthrough & exudes the skill, maturity & creative imagination of a well-established and confident band. It’s obvious from the outset that a lot of effort and attention to detail has been invested in “Descent” and the rewards are certainly reaped in the form of this album.
Early on in their career MATHS successfully mastered the arty Screamo / Post Hardcore approach (in the classic 90s sense not the modern incarnation of “Screamo”) of cult bands such as FUNERAL DINER, ORCHID, CITY OF CATERPILLAR, PAGE NINETY-NINE, etc, with all the spellbinding atmosphere of “Eye of the Storm” era NEUROSIS or later CULT OF LUNA. However, “Descent” sees a distinct development in their sound, a far more personal approach that surpasses the already emotive and passion-filled atmosphere of classic Screamo. This building of character is hardly surprising as members of MATHS are actively involved in all manner of side-projects, including shadowy, obscure & complex depressive Black Metal band LIVIMØRKET, and also notably the Doom / Drone / Ambient project LIFE IN THE DARK. MATHS is a behemoth of creative energy & it’s no wonder that they have become so adept at songwriting to such a degree.
MATHS are one of those bands who sidestep the whole issue of “genre” thus appealing on many different levels. Although the band has roots in alternative Punk / Hardcore, there is much here to be found for those who follow the more obscure, outside edges of modern outsider Black Metal. For example; I have long thought that bands such as ISOLATION, TRIST, & AUSTERE, have much in common with Screamo / Post-Hardcore due to their use of acoustic / atmospheric guitar passages, somber mood & passionately screamed vocals. Even “Springtime Depression” era FORGOTTEN TOMB shares these elements in common. Therefore the aforementioned bands & also those such as LíAM, AMESOUERS & LES DISCRETS, are not a million miles away from MATHS and are certainly comparable though the approach is coming from different angles. However, MATHS includes other interesting elements such as poetic lyrics, spoken and punky shouted narratives that bring to mind SLINT plus also sensitively arranged dark piano / keyboard pieces.
It would be fair to say that MATHS should appeal to open-minded / artistic individuals who appreciate bands that encompass warm yet heavy atmosphere, powerful varied rhythms, melancholic riffs, sorrowful passages and awesome screamed vocals. This is honest and genuine alternative music at its heartfelt best and it’s as simple as that. Amen.