An image containing several mathematical symbols in varying colors

Math Rock: What is it?

By Bridget Dunbar
Music Journalist

Math and music don’t always seem to go together. But math rock is the perfect combination of the two. This genre is diverse; some use distortion while others use clean tones to highlight the rhythm of the music, some of the main features of this genre. Drums and guitars are common instruments, similarly to the inspiring genres of emo and rock.

There are many math rock bands around the world and there are a few based in Texas, such as Hikes and Verisimilitude are both from Austin, Texas. Verisimilitude has released four albums since 2011 and their newest was in March 2018. Hikes will be debuting their newest album, “Mahal Kita” in November 2019. Their music can be found on Bandcamp.

These bands are a good introduction to math rock, namely the album “Onset” by Hikes. The album demonstrates many of the characteristics of the genre: uncommon rhythms, simple riffs and rapid breaks between sections of the songs. But it stays true to the rock genre; harsh vocals from the lead vocalist, Nathan Wilkins, and the other talented musicians. For example, the title track has soft vocals that often interrupt intense, clashing rhythms between the guitar and drums. The album is short as it only has four songs but it’s full of so many bops.

The band Verisimilitude is also a good example of the genre. They released their self-titled album in March of last year. This album has a harsher sound than Hikes to start with similar to punk music. But it also shares the syncopated rhythms with other math rock bands.

Three men standing in front of a dark background very close together
The math rock band Verisimilitude. Photo by Verisimilitude.

These bands are playing in a style that is rarely showcased in the mainstream, but it is so interesting. They draw inspiration from several different genres as can be seen in songs like “Melting Marshmallows”, by Verisimilitude, or “Lilt” by Hikes. This genre and these bands deserve more spotlights in the future.

Featured image courtesy of Rovnet.

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