Ampere-Like Shadows

It’s been a while since Ampere put out some new music, and if you know anything about anything, you should know that Ampere doesn’t mess around when it comes to their trade. 2004’s All Our Tomorrows End Today is considered by many to be a classic of the screamo genre, and the band as a whole is comprised of long-time veterans of the genre, especially guitarist Will Killingsworth of Orchid fame. Like Shadows is the new LP from this Amherst powerhouse, and it picks up right where their previous outing left off: intense, calculated, passionate and technical hardcore.

Ampere has always been a band that prides themselves not only on the proficiency of their songwriting, but the intelligence and thought that goes into the songs as well. Ampere openly cites influence from several existential and postmodern philosophers, and their ideas permeate the songs by way of vocalist Stephen Pierce’s lyrics. The result is a thoughtful, introspective and provocative assault on your ears. Killingsworth’s guitar playing is as razor-sharp as ever, as he once again proves to be the master of chaotic stop-and-go rhythms, dissonant chord progressions, and angular riffing. It’s almost hard to believe that all of the entropy that Like Shadows manages to create is centered largely around one man’s guitar playing. Drummer Andy Skelley seemingly manhandles his kit, hardly ever stopping for a break and bassist Meghan Minior does an excellent job at giving the songs the thick and heavy bass lines they deserve.

The greatest thing about Ampere is how much emotion and power they are able to conjure up in minimal amounts of time. The songs on Like Shadowsrange from a mere 10 seconds long to a raging 2 minute long piece that serves like a monolith in comparison. Regardless, no matter how short the songs are, the band manages to get the point across, demonstrate their ferocity and intentions, all the while refusing to leave you bored and wanting more. Songs like “Escapism Pt. II” and “We Neither Rise Nor Fall” are perfect examples of the Ampere formula: introduce a propensity for ear-shattering guitar chords, continue with uncalculated precision and fury, maintain a steady but syncopated and unruly drum beat, and ensure that the vocals and lyrics are at once primal and sincere. The album closer “Tiny Victories” has the band offering us their take on the word “epic,” as they lull in and out of the aggression by introducing a clean and saccharine instrumental break until it all ultimately comes roaring back through your speakers.

Like Shadows proves that Ampere have become legends in a genre that not many people seem to acknowledge. It’s a shame really because screamo has given us some of the most sincere and heartfelt tunes in recent musical history. The genre is able to successfully encompass the most beautiful and the angriest aspects of music, whether separately or at the same time. Ampere is one of the bands that manages to do both at the same time extremely well without sacrificing any time or including any filler. Like Shadows is 13 straight minutes of unbridled emotion and power as transmitted through the fingers, hands and throat of 4 talented individuals.

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