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Crave and Collapse (Abacus Recordings)

Despite the protests of the musicians who make it, much of today's post-hardcore gets labeled screamo and stays in that fermenting pile. Cleveland's Narcissus starts there, angular chords chugging erratically as singer-keyboardist John Pope grouses his throat raw. Then Crave and Collapse quickly climbs out of the muck, reaches for the sky, takes off, and soars.

Narcissus formed in 1998, first playing hardcore, but then tiring of the style's limitations. On the band's full-length debut, the players kick and scream until they're spent. Cocksure riffs from guitarist John LaRussa move along "To James," while Pope rips metal histrionics like a guest singer from Ferret Records. Track by track, buzzing bass gradually fades into hypnotic echoes. Drums, vocals, and feedback swirl in "Indifference of Living" as Pope sings, "Open the road/Open the mind/I don't want anything in my way." It's his mantra for the moment -- and for his band as well.

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