When San Antonio-based hardcore band Illustrations released their debut record, In Vain, digitally last year, they planned to keep it a Bandcamp exclusive. However, soon the album gained a vast amount of attention from musicians in the hardcore scene and fans alike, leading the group to turn it into a physical LP instead, which was released in early February.

From the second the record opens with “Take Away My Body,” it is evident what the listener is in for: in-your-face, no-holds-barred hardcore. Though the songs are short, they are forceful, and each track delivers another punch. Elements of thrash and punk exist throughout the record as well, and are especially noticeable in songs like “Never Feeling” and “Always Losing.” “In Shambles” stands out on the album, with screeching, catchy guitar riffs and drum patterns that are derived from speed metal.

There are tracks that showcase a calmer side to Illustrations, such as “Swan Song,” which is a bit mellower than others on the disc. This is refreshing, coming halfway through the album, and shows the group’s diversity. “Endless Sleep” is another example of this, and features a peaceful lull in the track consisting of nothing but soft guitars and distorted speaking vocals before going back into the song with more power than before. The LP ends with “Leave Me,” another example of the band’s ability to find the balance between chaotic and melodic.

For the five-piece’s first album, it is incredibly engaging. Each one of the 12 tracks brings something new to the table and is full of power and energy. What is most notable is the band’s ability to find the harmony between all of their elements, resulting in a record that is well beyond the group’s years.

In A Word: Impressive

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