Beartooth's sophomore record Aggressive suffers from follow-up syndrome. The band attempts to channel their raw energy into a collection of twelve monotonous tracks that kills the album at its core.
To its credit, the album does start off with power. The album is introduced on a huge note with title track 'Aggressive', beginning on a gory harmony of clean vocals and throaty screams that kick in full force with a series of jagged riffs. The song has grand choruses enlarged by the aggregation of screams and powerful vocals. The big chorus theme finds itself holding true throughout a good half of the record, 'Fair Weather Friend' following through with massive riffs backing it, as well. The brutal bridge of 'Loser' is groundbreaking, a cavernous riff backing deathly screams. 'Hated' channels Rise Against during the verses, as if the band taking punk and bringing it into the light of post-hardcore.
Unfortunately, after this short run of the first third of the record, things go downhill. The core of the record lacks any meat - the first third had massive riffs with big choruses and grand riffs that had a distinct punch to them. Perhaps the victim of production, the middle section of the record lacks punchiness. On top of the lack of discretion, the album becomes boring at this point. The problem many post-hardcore bands fall into is that after a triumphant intro, they continue to play off the formula of former tracks, leaving no originality outside the first few tracks. Beartooth falls into this trap - I couldn't even tell the song had changed between 'Censored' and 'Always Dead'. The first tastes of originality comes all too late and in the wrong positioning on the album - the closure track 'King Of Anything' is the only song that sounds remotely different from the rest, being only a distorted guitar on top of Caleb Shomo's raspy vocals. It leaves the album off on an unfulfilling conclusion and leaves it sounding empty, as if something big needs to follow up.
Focussing on the lyrics may ruin the album further for you. With such gems as the pre-chorus of 'Rock Is Dead', featuring the line "I'd rather be deaf, I'd rather be dead than bored out of my mind" and the entirety of 'Loser', you're better off focussing on the instrumental. 'Loser' is carried a lot further with the grandness of its riffs, and 'Rock Is Dead' is supported only by the energy of its ironic rock vibe. The latter brings back the loudness found at the beginning of the record, but with only one subpar track to follow, there wasn't much hope at that point anyway.
Beartooth did not find artistic success on this record, sadly. It feels like an album for those who want to believe they listen to big, heavy metal, but in actuality, are actually listening to the same trashy Pierce The Veil chauvinism put to bigger riffs. The album begins well, but just cannot carry itself through to the end. Their debut blows it out of the park, and hopefully their next record will see that light, too.
Favorite Tracks: Aggressive, Loser
Least Favorite Tracks: Censored, Always Dead, Find A Way