The past year has seen so many celebrated acts rise from the ashes. Korn, Hootie and the Blowfish, Evanesc—wait a minute…what?
In all seriousness, 2019 has given us some very triumphant new records from acts I thought I’d never hear from again. I still can’t believe Jeromes Dream is putting out new music, and I refused to believe Tool actually had a new record until it showed up in my Spotify feed. Whatever the reason, seminal and talented bands that disappeared over a decade go are coming back, with new music no less, and one return I am quite excited for is chaotic-math-metalcore gods The Number Twelve Looks Like You and their new full-length Wild Gods.
In true No. 12 form, Wild Gods is untamable if not unnamable. The twangy basslines sit perfectly within the eclectic and hectic drumming, the rhythm section blurring their walking lines and linear patterns into one fluid and powerful rhythm machine. The guitars stack spindly melodies and virtuosic solos on top of booming chord progressions, occasionally cutting the distortion to splash in diaphanous color chords and jazzy voicings. Even more varied are the vocals, where operatic runs are layered on top of raspy screams, gravelly deathcore growls lead into gentle lilts, and a few tunes even feature pop-punk gang vocals. And ever the ones to top themselves, the band garnishes their grueling sound with strange pops of acoustic guitars, xylophones and guiros.
While the baseline of Number Twelve’s sound seems to be metalcore, they extend their musical reach far beyond the boundaries of that label. The band hops between genres as often as they do time signatures—the first minute of the record, all smooth jazz progressions and a sultry sax, utterly belies the vicious heaviness that follows over the course of the album. Every track breaks up the brutal passages with strange but effective genre wanderings: “Raised and Erased” dips into a circus bridge complete with calliope and pumping rhythms, while the intro to “Tombo’s Wound” toys with bossa nova patterns and hand percussion. But when their metal edge rears its head, such as the chugs in “Last Laughter” or tremolo picking in “Of Fear,” it is utterly and unstoppably vicious.
The instrumentation on Wild Gods is purely primal, an unfiltered id that seems to follow every impulse. In contrast, the lyrics are both high-minded and linear. The Number Twelve Looks Like You adorn their unruly compositions with writing both decorative and relevant as they tackle current social issues: “Gallery of Thrills” calls out humans for abusing the environment, while “Ruin the Smile” plays like a death threat towards Jeffrey Epstein and the pedophilic elite. And rather than just point fingers are the shit on the wall, lines like “This is not a day for just words / This concerns everyone’s honor” and “This has become who we are” remind us that we as a species are responsible for the shape of the world, and thus that we must work to make it better by confronting our darkness.
To my surprise, one of my absolute favorite aspects of Wild Gods is the way it is mixed. This record makes full use of the stereo spread, placing instruments and sections strategically to pull the ear and the mind in multiple directions. The drums especially are panned with care and attention, letting the listener truly follow the player’s hands along the kit from toms to ride to china. The dynamics too are handled with care and consideration; shifts from soft genres into harder sections are reflected in the vocal effects and attentions, so that as the music builds to a crescendo, so does the overall sound of the song. Wild Gods is a record crafted with focus and intention for a wholly immersive listening experience, right down to the placement of the splash cymbals.
I can confidently say that Wild Gods is my favorite No. 12 release to-date. The band has not wasted their hiatus, but has used that time to mature and evolve. With ear-bending tones and socially-conscious lyrics, this record feels like a snapshot of our current era, capturing the chaos of our beautiful dystopia with dulcet tones and vicious breakdowns. Wilds Gods is proof that The Number Twelve Looks Like You aren’t just here to play the hits and milk a little attention; they’ve awakened from their slumber with hearts full of fire, and what musical wrath follows will surely be merciless.
My Top Track: “Ease My Siamese”
Wild Gods is out via Overlord Music, and is currently streaming on Spotify, Apple Music and pretty much everywhere else. For more info on The Number Twelve Looks Like You, including upcoming shows and news, follow them on Facebook or check out their website.