Johnny Booth
Moments Elsewhere

God damn it feels like I’ve been waiting on this one forever – and for all intents and purposes, it has been a long time coming. After dropping the unrelenting (and criminally underrated) Firsthand Accounts in 2019, Long Island’s Johnny Booth released their first new single all the way back in March of 2021 (The very good, if very prototypically Johnny Booth “Crowd Control”). Now look, I know A LOT has been going on in the world since then, and production times on almost everything have seemed to slowed to a snail-like pace, but after dropping the absolute UNIT of a track “Deepfake” in October of ’21, I got real antsy. I needed the whole package from these Metallic/Chaotic Hardcore psychopaths, and I needed it yesterday. Alas, it turned out my patience would have to last almost another full 2 years before I’d finally get the payoff I was seeking.

Whether or not the payoff was what I was necessarily expecting? That’s another thing.

I’ll go ahead and make this point right off the bat to help weed through the readers who may or may not want to stick around for this one – with Moments Elsewhere, Johnny Booth have very much embraced a completely modern approach to hardcore/metalcore – which is to say, there’s a lot of electronically-forward, “nu-ish” elements at play, a lot of simple, heavily distorted riffs ripping away at your senses, a lot of the same kinds of things that have helped skyrocket the careers of bands like Knocked Loose, Code Orange – which does include more than a few moments of absolutely brutish heft. Album opener “2040” wastes exactly zero seconds before breaking out the sledgehammer. It’s basically a one and a half minute beat down (don’t come at me genre know-it-alls I mean this metaphorically) whose only intention is violence. And follow-up “Collapse in the Key of Fireworks” isn’t much different, hitting you with the kind of futuristic, electronics-and-distortion-embracing breakdown that made the first couple Enter Shikari releases so interesting and endearing. “Ring Light Altar” and “No Comply” are both just stupid heavy, the latter kinda sounding like what might happen if you took Every Time I Die riffs and tuned them down to like, drop G – just wrecking balls designed so scatter a wake of pure filth behind their destructive path.

But the other side of the coin here are some of those more modern elements and general kind of weirdness you might expect from the likes of Vein.fm and the like. Granted, being a little odd isn’t necessarily uncharacteristic of a band who’ve always displayed more than a minor appreciation for acts like At the Drive-InFear Before the March of Flames and, being the good Long Islanders that they are, throwing in a healthy dose of Glassjaw to the mix as well. The end result is an album that should appeal to a pretty widespread audience, with tracks like “Full Tilt,” “Bright Future” and, in particular, “Why Becomes How” showcasing a much catchier, ready-for-college-radio kind of vibe that the band are apparently just as adept at pulling off. The difference this time around is that these elements are just so much more at the forefront of the band’s sound, and while this adaptation to a sometimes softer, friendlier sound may turn some folks off, I personally find the balance really nice, especially considering that the harder elements are no less intense than they ever were on Firsthand Accounts or any previous effort.

And for those who embrace this addition to the band’s sound, you’re rewarded with some really fine examples of when the Johnny Booth coin is flipped and somehow lands standing straight up, showcasing both sides in equal, highly effective fashion. One of the best examples manifests itself in “Only by Name,” whose opening Screamo riffing, combined with vocalist Andrew Herman’s passionate screams combine to work their way beneath your skin, drawing you in closer and closer until the moment devastation erupts a minute and a half in, and you’re slammed in the face again and again with bricks of distorted guitars and pulsating drums for one of the album’s more obscene breakdowns. That’s when, left in a daze, you’re lulled into a lush pillow of sound, almost like coming-to after receiving the worst beatdown of your life and thinking “ah shit, I’m dead. This is Heaven,” but the respite is brief, and only there to knock you again off balance as the song rounds out with more chaotic riffing, and the return of that absolutely pummeling breakdown just to make sure you really are good and dead this time around.

Moments Elsewhere is truly a product of its time – one that very much embraces the path forward and looks not to settle on the formulas that brought Johnny Booth to where they are today. That said, after the recent blistering “Storyteller” EP that included the previously mentioned brutality of “Deepfake” and also pummeling “Crowd Control,” I was definitely expecting something more punishing from start to finish than what we ended up with. I’ll even admit, it took me a couple spins to really grasp what Johnny Booth was laying down with Moments Everywhere, but I’ve got to say, when taken as a whole, this is a very satisfying listen, with enough moments of singular brilliance and absolute bludgeoning that will satisfy the casual listener just trying to add a couple tracks to their playlist. If I were wagering on the next unexpectedly heavy band to land on Coachella or Bonaroo, Johnny Booth ain’t a bad bet. Take that for whatever it’s worth, I guess.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
August 11th, 2023

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