A recent poster for a show at Amy’s Place in Buffalo described Gatto Black as SSRI post-hardcore and it’s pretty spot on. Sal Mastrocola, the group’s main songwriter, has an anxious and very emo take on hardcore.

Mastrocola popped onto the scene a few years back with two 2021 singles and the 2022 EP, 2 Stressed 2 B Blessedreleased through local label, Triple Hammer Records. The group’s sound is nostalgic for the emo side of 2000s skramz, but takes it to the next level by moshing it with modern sounds of hardcore, post-hardcore, and even alt-metal.

The group’s latest release “Escape You,” explores the apathy of enduring toxic relationships, especially those that find pleasure in the pain of overstaying their welcome.

In the song’s opening verse, Mastrocola demands the listener’s attention with an emotionally charged vocal delivery that trembles with palpable rage. Listening to Mastrocola stutter, yell and cry his way through the intro is a visceral experience. An angry guitar part cuts in and out, accentuating this dramatic take.

The operatic hook is an emotional gut-puncher, as Mastrocola’s lyrics admit to clawing for more of the same comfort in toxicity. At the same time, his distressed delivery leads one to believe he’s desperate for change.

The chorus lyrics’ “I keep coming back” and “I keep laying down at the foot of the bed,” find Mastrocola feeling like an inferior pet to his partner, and making reference to the project’s namesake.

Mastocola said “Cats are so complex – dark, mysterious, even powerful. But at the same time, they’re full of anxiety and nervous energy. I really identify with that. Adopting a cat as the project’s ‘mascot’ gives me [the] license to be a bit weird and self-deprecating and subversive. Which feels a lot more authentic to who I am.”

The final breakdown is the song’s heaviest moment, punching the listener with waves of loud metallic guitar leads and a punked-out drum beat while Mastrocola’s morbid lyrics can have multiple meanings:

Put on that dress that I like best
The cage is open but I still haven’t left
Go ahead take off that dress
I’d rather die
Trap me inside
I think I’ll die
Kill me tonight

On one side, this stanza could be seen as opting for death over any romantic treaty. The other thought is that Mastrocola coming back to this person again is as weighty in its finality as death itself. 

By the end of the song, he’s jumped even further down the fear hierarchy. One could view the line “The cage is open but I still haven’t left,” as relating more to the fragile bird in a cage on the album cover than the looming cat in the background. As Mastrocola said, he views cats as dual-sided, and one could infer that this song depicts the black cat as both the attacked and the attacker. 

Mastrocola said “Buckle up because the new EP is rife with talk of claws, superstitions and living nine lives. There’s a song on it called ‘B*tch I’m a Cat’ for chrissake.”

“Escape You” follows “Solastalgia” as the second single off of Gatto Black’s upcoming six-track EP, (Not) Ready to Die, set to be the group’s second release on Triple Hammer Records.

Mastrocola doesn’t have a set release date for it yet but is hinting that it’ll be out sooner than later. In the meantime, stream the two new singles on Spotify or Apple Music.