As a member of the Charlotte music community, there are a few underground bands from different parts of the country that garner praise when coming through the Carolinas. Whether it be the style of music, the friend connections between members, or just having an online reputation for being a fun live band, several acts bring a good crowd despite not being a touring powerhouse. One of the bands that come to mind when I think of this subsection is Kaonashi. I have not had the pleasure of seeing them live yet, but they have a sizable fanbase in the Southeast. Several shows they have played have received massive praise for the chaotic showmanship and overall intensity. With their signing to Equal Vision Records and the upcoming release of Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year, the band is bound to skyrocket within their blend of mathcore and chaotic metalcore.
“T.A.Y.L.O.R.” continues the story of Jamie, the protagonist of Kaonashi’s catalog that was present on their previous EP Why Did You Do It? and takes the character throughout his first day of senior year in high school. The urgency is extremely apparent as wailing guitars and shrieking vocals from Peter Rono set the tone for the rest of the record. “Fuck Temple University” adds some clean vocals into the mix, as well as incorporating some post-hardcore elements and progressions for a more straightforward listen. “An Evening of Moving Pictures with Scooter Corkle” was the first single on the record and remains one of my favorite songs on the album in whole; the clean vocals really juxtapose Rono’s screaming and makes for a good dichotomy within the track. The guitarwork is also on major display here as the groovy undertones really put you in a state of headbanging.
“Market Street (Chardonnay, Diamonds, & Me)” reminds me the most of the previous EP; the song feels unrefined in the best way possible as the tenacity throws your attention to every aspect of the musicianship being showcased. The tempo shift in the second half of the song is one of the highlights of the record; the spoken word adds another layer of emotion to the story-building world that Kaonashi presents, culminating in a massive breakdown. “Broad Street (Take Me Home)” sounds like the continuation of “Market Street…” but starts with a dissonant soundscape as an introduction before getting into the thick of the song. It also contains a nice interlude that works as a breather from everything beforehand before ending in a Deftones-esque alternative metal finale. “The Counselor’s Office: A Present Example of Past” reminds me of The Callous Daoboys in that the song structure is all over the place; there is so much going on that there may be a BIT too much to focus on. Rono’s performance on this track is my favorite of his on Dear Lemon House; his ability to keep within the rhythm of the unorthodox time signatures makes for a really cool parallel between lyrics and instruments. “Run Away Jay” returns to a bit more linear song structure… for the first thirty seconds. Another tempo change and introduction to groove throws this song off course. It is enjoyable to listen, but it went a much different direction that I expected which threw me off. It does have a very enjoyable breakdown in the middle of the song, however.
“A Recipe for a Meaningful Life” takes a major left turn in terms of musicianship. A vastly slower and lighter song, it immediately stood out to me as one of the highlights of Dear Lemon House. The instrumentals are a bit eerie in the back, signaling the impending chaos that will come in the forthcoming songs. A guitar solo takes place in the back third of the song and really steals the show as the song has been building up with Rono’s piercing screams bleeding with passion. “The Underdog I: Blue Pop” follows a more linear structure than the rest of the album, but it’s evident that this is the beginning of a trilogy of songs to end the album, so there is not much that stands out here to me. “The Underdog II: Fight on the 40 Yard Line, What’s That in Kilometers?” is an acoustic ballad, which is also an unexpected turn from the band’s modus operandi. It was a pleasant surprise compared to the mathcore onslaught on the rest of the record. The final track, “The Underdog III: Exit Pt. IV (A Self Fulfilling Prophecy)” contains everything that a Kaonashi song is known for; the song contains a lot of groove but breathes enough to add some atmosphere with chaos always lurking until the end of the record.
Overall, Kaonashi is one of the bands that is sure to blow up, and the record is great in my opinion, but sometimes mathcore and dirty metalcore like this can be a little punishing from beginning to end in listening. I enjoyed a majority of the record and hope to see Kaonashi live soon.
I give Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year a 7.5 out of 10.
I recommend checking out “An Evening of Moving Pictures…”, “A Recipe for a Meaningful Life”, and “The Underdog III…”.