Gnarwhal (Photo: Reese Faw)

Two-piece rock bands are often viewed as a curiosity, due in large part to their inherent limitations. The exclusion of a guitar or bass means that, by and large, there’s something being omitted. But increasingly, that’s proving to be an outdated construct, as bands like Nashville’s Gnarwhal are continually pushing the boundaries of what guitarist-vocalist Chappy Hull and drummer Tyler Coburn can pull off in terms of sheer dexterity. On May 12 the band will release Crucial, its third album, and The A.V. Club is streaming the record’s first song, “Marathon Ripper,” below. The track sees Hull shoot off so many different riffs its hard to keep track of them, but it’s Coburn’s ability to make them all feel as one that keeps “Marathon Ripper” from ever feeling disjointed. It’s math-rock, but there are gnarled pop hooks sprinkled in, and stop-on-a-dime shifts befitting the best screamo bands. Give “Marathon Ripper” a listen below, and catch the band on tour with Pile in just a couple weeks.

Crucial is out May 12 on Exploding In Sound and is available for pre-order now.