Even a quick glance at the track listing to In Vain, the latest from the Texas noisemakers in Illustrations, betrays the hardcore band's corroded worldview: "Always Losing," "Never Feeling," "In Shambles."

Even a quick glance at the track listing to In Vain, the latest from the Texas noisemakers in Illustrations, betrays the hardcore band’s corroded worldview: “Always Losing,” “Never Feeling,” “In Shambles.”

Even a song like “Heaven” finds the crew rolling in the muck rather than lifting skyward, like beings forever cursed to remain untouched by the spirit. “I feel nothing,” the band bellows, as guitars deliver repeated body blows that sound engineered to challenge this proclamation.

It’s a bleak perspective that manifests itself in everything from the LP cover art (a colorless lithograph of an ancient castle turret reclaimed by nature) to the quartet’s punishing sound, which builds around earth-crunching guitar riffs, pulverizing drums and growling vocals courtesy of man-beast Nicodemus Gonzalez, a singer whose first name alone decreed he’d one day front a sun-eclipsing metal band.

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