A good introduction paragraph should introduce the topic of a piece of writing. It gives context to the reader as they are led to the thesis, and sets up their frame of mind for absorbing and engaging with the content in the body of the work. But I’m sleep-deprived and seething madness because of it, so fuck all that. The new debut LP by Ohio’s For Your Health is a hell of a listen, and here’s why.
In Spite Of oozes rage as it spins, most likely a product of the terrible year that gave rise to it. Many of the songs call back to the police brutality and resulting civil unrest that marked 2020: “The Day of Black Sun” opens with the biting lines “Straw didn’t break the camel’s back / Just a boot on its neck and a billion whip cracks.” “Everyday at 13:12” (whose title is a clever and biting reference to skram legends Jeromes Dream) mocks the police force’s motto with the line “Carceral intent is all that you’ll protect.” And while some of the more complex images within the writing feel muddy at first, phrases like “formlessness forming” and my personal favorite “the weight of weightlessness / you couldn’t bear to wait for” wield the sounds of the words like well-sharpened weapons.
There is a lot of vehemence to be had from the lyrics, but it’s in the instrumentation that this record really lets loose. For Your Health channel mid-aughts post-hardcore in a lot of these tracks, in the best of ways: the wild guitar melodics in the latter half of “Birthday Candles in the Effigy” or the triumphant yet emotional singing in “Abscess Makes the Heart Grow” give me very strong Downtown Battle Mountain vibes. The instrumental “If Anybody Asks, We’re Already Fucked” is absolutely heartrending with its gorgeous interlocking guitars and spacious syncopated drumming.
Yet just as For Your Health can clearly give us a picturesque landscape of emotive instrumentation, they balance out the beauty with plenty of biting dissonance. The first half of “The Day of Black Sun” is an onslaught of panic chords and rhythms so chaotic, it might as well be improvised. The album’s closer “This City Will Crumble and Many People Will Die” and “Everyday at 13:12” race along at breakneck tempos, stabbing at the ears with ugly intervals and wrathful screaming. What’s more, the raking high chords that open the record are the same that close it, so that even when it seems the album has run its course, it’s actually the sound of For Your Health raring to go again.
In Spite Of is a real smash-n-grab record, moving at a fast and furious pace with nary a second to breathe. The band packs twelve songs into 17 minutes, with half of those tracks barely scraping past one minute in length (and one barely breaking 13 seconds). The songs are so tightly packed together that often, the ending of one track bleeds into the beginning of the next. This hurtling speed is built into the lyrics as well: the middle section of “The Day of Black Sun” fires off a series of complex interlocking images so quickly and with such virulence, the sounds of the words themselves almost take precedence over the message embedded within.
In Spite Of clearly exists in spite of a terrible terrible year, and for that we are grateful. For Your Health unleash all the wrath they’ve been brewing on this one, pummeling the ear with chaotic chord progressions and powerful performances. The band expertly channels some of the most memorable sounds of 2000’s post-hardcore while stamping it with their own sassy signature. It’s a formidable debut LP with some real moments of brilliance, so go grab your own copy and get to spinning.
My Top Track: “Push the Fucking Rock, Sisy”
In Spite Of is out via Twelve Gauge Records; you can grab physicals off of the Deathwish site, or stream the record on Bandcamp or Spotify. For all things For Your Health, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @foryourhealthoh.