Varials take heavy music to a deeper level on their full-length debut, Pain Again [Fearless Records].
The Philadelphia, PA quintet—Travis Tabron [vocals], Mitchell Rogers [guitar], James Hohenwarter [guitar], Sean Rauchut [drums], and Mike Foley [bass]—augment an airtight assault of metallic unpredictability and hardcore spirit with poetic punchlines and lyrical storytelling that wouldn’t be out of place on a Kendrick Lamar verse.
This mindset expands the possibilities of "heavy” throughout 11 brash, bruising, and brilliant anthems.
"We wanted to communicate a level of depth,” affirms Travis. "I like to say we’re a metalcore band who listens to rap and operates like a hardcore band. It’s deeper than what people might normally consider ‘heavy.’ I attribute that depth to hip-hop. I’m not rapping; but I’m freestyling lyrics for the most part. We took the next step on Pain Again.”
Varials have been quietly working towards that ‘next step’ since 2015. Maybe it’s the water in Philadelphia, but the same gritty streets that inspired everyone from Rocky Balboa to Meek Mill powered these five musicians. The group’s debut Absolution EP yielded a string of fan favorites such as "Deadweather” and "Stigmata,” which both cracked 100K Spotify streams. They released the Absolution split EP with Vicious Embrace in 2016 and earned acclaim from Alternative Press, Revolver, Punktastic, and more. Along the way, a "naked mosher” infamously tore through the pit while the guys performed on tour, and a fan video went viral landing on Rob Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness.
Simultaneously, they quietly collated ideas for what became Pain Again before entering the studio with producer Josh Schroeder [King 810] during early 2017. Booked for six weeks, they tracked everything in under two with Travis often impressively writing lyrics in the booth and on the spot.
"Being the amazing producer that he is, Josh was able to get me into one of my most creative mindsets ever,” admits Travis. "He’d encourage me to just be real. Some of my favorite lyrics took shape by just getting on the mic with his encouragement. It all came from some weird subconscious place in my brain.”
The first single "Anything To Numb” seesaws from ominous distorted guitars into a chugging groove that breaks into a towering chant from Travis who admits, "I can’t leave my feelings when the city sleeps.” Following a chaotic bridge, the madness subsides into a haunting outro.
"The phrase ‘Anything To Numb’ always stuck with me super hard,” he goes on. "The whole thing has a sad, somber, and reflective tone. The first phrase definitely calls to some of my influences. Every rapper is stuck in his or her feelings. It also paints a picture. How many times do you check social media at two or three in the morning and find some sad things you’re friends posted? It’s very open and vulnerably honest.”
Meanwhile, "EDA” spirals out into a grinding gut-punch, while the title track "Pain Again” sets the tone with a neck-snapping groove and sharp scream. "That was actually the first song we wrote for this,” recalls Travis. "The lyrics are more personal and raw. I always wanted Varials to have that deeper approach. Pain Again implies that pain never left. It’s right around the corner. It’s coming back. It’s unfortunately something that doesn’t necessarily leave. It’s like the first time you’re hearing this story from us, but it’s not the first time this story has happened.”
Ultimately, Varials tell the story in their own way, and it’s bound to make a big impact.
"My favorite records always have metaphors, analogies, and lessons that you don’t ever stop learning,” he leaves off. "It isn’t just bullshit. It’s true and real. I want people to connect and feel it.”