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Starkweather Solve The Impossible On “Divided By Zero”

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Back when memes were meant to resemble motivational posters, you’d occasionally run across one bearing the phrase “divide by zero” paired with an image of a massive black hole tearing through spacetime. The implication was that performing an impossible math function would throw the laws of the universe into chaos. This joke has not aged well. Like a lot of the young internet of the 2000s, the humor was simple, nerdy, and uncomplicated. The web may be a more toxic place to spend time now, but at least the jokes are better.

Starkweather, on the other hand, have aged beautifully. The long-running Philadelphia-based band have had their feet in both metal and hardcore for decades, challenging the conventions of both genres for just as long. Even as the genre of metallic hardcore grew around them, Starkweather have remained peerless. While the bands that followed in their wake drew from the aggression of thrash metal (or the melodic strains coming from Sweden), Starkweather shared an exploratory spirit with progressive metal.

That progressive side is front and center on their 30-minute long (!) new song “Divided by Zero,” which you can stream below.

“Divided by Zero,” which is featured on a split with Portugal’s Concealment, is an epic. Not in the “epic lulz” sense popular around the same time as the eponymous meme, but in the vein of side-long epics like Fates Warning’s “The Ivory Gate of Dreams.” Unlike the those dignified prog romps of old, “Divided by Zero” is an unsightly beast. Whirling arpeggios are paired with gut-punching mosh riffs that give way to abrupt shifts in tempo and tone. All the while, singer Rennie Resmini gives voice to the “saw-toothed grin leering” old man at the center of the song’s narrative arc.

Where a more traditional prog metal band may have offered respite, Starkweather offer only more punishment. Where a hardcore act would ease the tension with a crowd-pleasing dance break, “Divided by Zero” only grow more gnarled and alien. Starkweather themselves are the child an unlikely equation, it only makes sense that they’d give birth to an impossibility of their own.

Here’s what singer Rennie Resmini has to say about the song:

Finally unfettering this beast from its shackles and allowing it to take flight. This broke one of us. Todd completed tracking and mixing and declared himself spent. While writing and arranging we joking referred to the song as “Drug Holiday”, terminology for a patient breaking from their medication. Probably more apt for songs we wrote on this sheltering night and the Overmars split considering state of mental affairs.

Preorder the upcoming split via Translation Loss before its release on March 9th.

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