You know the proverbial moment when the rug is pulled out from under you? Well, that’s what the music of Gillian Carter sounds like.
In a free fall between post-hardcore, blackened noise, punk, metal, and screamo, it repeatedly hits with unexpected intensity. Often, a barrage of percussion barrels forward under grinding guitars and gnashing screams only to stop, turn around, and smack you once more without prejudice. All of this force impressively derives from vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Logan Rivera accompanied by Bob Caruso [bass] and Tony Oriza [drums]. After earning widespread acclaim fromKERRANG!,Invisible Oranges, No Clean Singing, and more, the Orlando, FL group unleash their 2022 album,Salvation Through Misery[Skeletal Lightning].
“Over the past two years, everything I’d worked for went away overnight, and it really messed with me,” Logan admits. “We don’t have a booking agent or management; it’s all us. I’d planned all of these things that went to hell when COVID hit. I’d wanted to open up a recording studio with the money I’d saved, but I had to use it for living expenses. We were supposed to tour. I was going through a mental hole where I was completely defeated. I kept trying to achieve a certain goal, taking one step forward only to take twenty back. I watched my mental health slowly degrade. I felt isolated and alone—like a complete stranger to my family and friends. That’s the theme of the record.”
Gillian Carter have always transformed uncomfortable emotions into controlled chaotic catharsis. The band built palpable buzz via projects such asThe Flood That Came After The Storm,Having Lost…,Lost Ships Sinking With The Sunset,Songs For Splits,Dreams of Suffocation, and…This Earth Shaped Tomb. In the wake of the latter,KERRANG! highlighted the group among“The Underground Sounds of America” and professed,“Trying to wedge Gillian Carter into a typical musical niche just isn’t worth the time that could be spent listening to their music.”Meanwhile,Invisible Oranges mused,“The best screamo avoids the myopia of personal angst through tying itself to concerns so fundamental to the human experience as to become universal. Gillian Carter understand this human conundrum on a palpable level.”
As the world shut down in the face of the Global Pandemic, Logan and Bob decamped to a practice space inside of a storage unit where they demoed initial ideas for what would becomeSalvation Through Misery. Recording with engineer Lon Bishiri in Tallahassee during 2021, Logan performed drums on two tracks, while a rotating cast of drummers Caden Clinton of Pool Kids, Jesse Lawrence, and Kyle Shepherd handled the rest. The technicality evolved with the aggression.
“Musically, I was trying to push myself in terms of the riffs,” says Logan. “It’s the most technical we’ve gone. I made a conscious effort not to think too much. With the way life was affecting me, it made sense to play heavier. So, it’s the darkest and angriest we’ve ever been.”
Living up to this promise, the first single “The Pain Of Being Awake” distills anxiety into pummeling screams and buzzsaw guitars. This militant march collides with a hummable bridge riff before an incisive outro.
“I was having these crazy panic attacks about not having enough money, getting the record done, and feeling inadequate,” he sighs. “I’d let my health go, and I was having intense feelings. I was losing sleep, because I was afraid I would die in my sleep. I really got in my head. That’s‘The Pain of Being Awake’.”
Then, there’s “Drowning In Poison (Looking For An Escape).” Ominous industrial squeals give way to his jarring and venomous vocal delivery as the onslaught of guitars never relents.
“The title references a bad wasp infestation in my backyard,” he recalls. “They came back no matter what I did. One day, I squirted spry on the nest and watched them suffocate and fall. It got existential, because I didn’t want to do it, but it was a problem. I related it to how people coped with depression during the Pandemic with drugs, food, or alcohol.”
For just over a minute, “Forced Into A World of Shit” charges forward at breakneck speed. On the other end of the spectrum, “Serene Landscapes of a Violent Utopia” grasps a rare moment of calm inside of an unnervingly gorgeous soundscape. Everything culminates on the fiery finale “Watching A Friend Die.” It transmits an elegy in one final conflagration of blood, brutality, and beauty as clean guitars offset this volatile apotheosis.
“It carries a lot of weight,” he reveals.“A lot of friends had been losing dogs from old age. I was thinking of humans in hospitals and not wanting to say goodbye. You’re watching somebody fall apart. Personally, it’s about watching myself become completely unrecognizable. I don’t want to leave this earth before it’s my time.”
In the end, Gillian Carter turn all of this darkness into a channel for empathy.
“Every album is a way of coping for me,” he leaves off. “If you’re going through mental anguish and can relate to anything I’m saying, I hope you know you’re not alone.”