Surely the most under-appreciated band in the scene, Portland Oregon’s I Never Heard The Bullet play the sort of impassioned post-hardcore that should see them playing to a fanbase similar in size to like-minded acts such as Emarosa or Pierce the Veil. Whatever the reason, the band hasn’t yet hit those heights. If their debut EP Moving With Grace That Men Despise is any indication, though, their lack of profile has nothing at all to do with their music.
Originally released in the USA in early 2008, the EP makes it into this countdown by way of having a mid-2009 international release through iTunes. Kris Crummett, a Portland local, produced the record and gives it his signature blend of smooth and crunchy with plenty of little intricacies to keep the listener interested. The band has all the regular post-hardcore-circa-2009 ingredients, but manages to combine them with enough flair and individuality to allow them to stand out from the pack. Lead vocalist Motaz (yep, even has a cool rock name) has a smooth R&B quality to his voice not too far removed from that of another Crummett alum, Jonny Craig. His vocals are generally the focus, which is not to diminish the impact of the rest of the band but simply to emphasise the strength of the vocals. The songs are turbulent and at times have the borderline-unstructured feel of much of Thursday’s best work. Guitars alternately chime and chug, moving the songs such as Strike Three and the pointedly anti-organised-religion (and aptly titled) This Has Controversy Written All Over it along in fits and starts. The latter is probably the most impressive song on the EP, with intelligent and challenging lyrics meshing with an intricate arrangement to form an irresistible whole. The Thursday comparison resurfaces on the brilliant 10 Ways to Sneak Up On a Ghost, with a guitar line snaking its way through the song not unlike that in Steps Ascending from War All The Time. The comparison is not intended to portray the band as unoriginal – indeed the opposite is true – but simply to illustrate the level at which the EP sits.
Moving With Grace That Men Despise is a remarkably polished and impressive debut from a band just crying out for more attention. Hopefully their most recent recordings, which were up until recently available for streaming on their facebook page, find their way onto a full-length with some label support (Equal Vision and/or Rise Records, are you listening?). It could be all I Never Heard The Bullet needs to be propelled to greatness.
Listen to I Never Heard The Bullet HERE