I’m going to ignore the fact that you may already be familiar with this band, considering they’re already a literal underground metal sensation with LEGIONS of fans worldwide. The Number Twelve Looks Like You for me has been challenging. Their music, which has been called everything from math-core to screamo to progressive, can at times seem too complicated and over the top. It never seems to coalesce (pun intended) into something tangible that I can get my head around. I’m certain that I missed the boat with these guys because I know various heavy music fans that have been losing their collective minds since The Number Twelve Looks Like You announced they were reuniting to tour and record new material. So okay, make me a believer!
Today marks the release of the long-awaited single “Ruin the Smile” from their upcoming Fall 2019 release Wild Gods and I can say that I’m a fan from the first notes. The track starts with an immediate nod to the metal soundscapes of the Scandinavian dark arts with lyrics like “Ruin the Smile of a Pedophile, their reckoning awaits.” The track seems to be a warning of sorts followed by the bands very aggressive response to child abusers. Lyrical content aside, the music here is the real story. The track launches into a guitar barrage tour de force from Alexis Pareja that lays the landscape for Jesse Korman’s outstanding vocals. Korman’s vocal style hasn’t changed so much as it’s evolved with the music of the band. It still could be described as “screamo,” but it has dramatically developed into something much more artistically nuanced as opposed to the previous all-out assault on the eardrums of previous releases. With side/backing vocals, sliding back and forth between band members with both clean and guttural, almost black metal sounds, the song follows what in my mind is at the same time ridiculously complicated and yet coherent, beautiful and FREAKING heavy. Alexis Pareja’s guitar is lighting fires one after another while keeping up with the newly minted rhythm assault of bassist DJ Scully and drummer Michael Kadnar (what the hell time signature is this crazy song). The track levels out with an insane retro-sounding METAL guitar solo that is absolutely awesome!. Pareja tweaks the tubes on his amp and lays out a guitar sound that sounds like it came crawling out from under Tony Iommi’s bed. Over the top of everything, atmospherics abound throughout this blistering track, making it a headphone junky’s treat.
This track defies all conventional heavy tags. It belongs to no sub-genre of metal. Instead, Ruin the Smile achieves the lofty goal of synchronizing the emotional weight and musicality of every subgenre of heavy music. The only real comparison I could give this would be to point to maybe Maynard Keenan’s various projects but even his stuff isn’t this cool.
What on earth is the rest of this album going to sound like? “Ruin the Smile” is a cannon shot across the bow of the good ship S.S. Metal. The Number Twelve Looks Like You is back and about to change everything we think we love about heavy music – the shape of metal to come.
You can pre-order Wild Gods here.