Beartooth - Aggressive

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

Rating: 5.5/10

Bring Me The Horizon - That's The Spirit

It was a challenge to follow up their critically acclaimed Sempiternal, but Bring Me The Horizon has trudged forward and have released their new album, That’s The Spirit. The album drops some of the band’s metalcore and heavier qualities and presents a new, alternative rock / alternative metal sound that shines a new light on the band, taking the electronic influences of Sempiternal and taking them a step further while still maintaining their core sound.

Right from the get-go, on opening track ‘Doomed’, you can tell the album is something different for the band. Beginning with various moans and groans before clean vocals come in with an atmospheric, pop-production-esque background, the listener is already given a taste of the new sound. The album makes heavy use of gang vocals, in a similar fashion to Thirty Seconds To Mars - ‘Happy Song’, ‘True Friends’, ‘Drown’, and ‘Oh No’ all have a 30STM vibe to them. ‘Happy Song’ almost reminds me of ‘September’s Children’ by Rise Against, with how the gang vocals are sung, and ‘Drown’ has gang vocals that had me thinking of the sing-a-long of Thirty Seconds To Mars’ ‘City Of Angels’.

Another fair comparison to make it to Linkin Park - Oli Sykes being a big fan of the band definitely shines through on tracks like ‘Throne’ and ‘Doomed’. With melodic yet intense vocals while maintaining an intense array of layered guitars and various other electronics, the LP vibes are strong in many songs. ‘Throne’ could even be their take on ‘Lost In The Echo’! This track is probably the closest they get to Linkin Park on the record... though each track has a distinct flair to them. Much of the album could essentially be a Linkin Park vs. Thirty Seconds To Mars album. My two favorite bands - I have zero complaints about that.

While the influences may be stronger in some places than others, Bring Me The Horizon stay true to themselves on each track. Melodic when it wants to be and extreme when it needs to be - BMTH has their sound down pat. While it That’s The Spirit may not match the evolution that was Sempiternal, it does a good job at being the follow up that album deserved. Perhaps they won’t be able to match the quality that album was - after it all, it redefined them all as musicians. But they can continue to evolve and still make great music. Spirit is the proof.

Favorite Tracks: Throne, Doomed, Avalanche

Least Favorite Tracks: What You Need, Follow You

Rating: 8/10

My Top 10 of 2015:

  1. Muse - Drones
  2. Halsey - BADLANDS
  3. 10 Years - From Birth To Burial
  4. Fall Out Boy - American Beauty / American Psycho
  5. Halestorm - Into The Wild Life
  6. Purity Ring - Another Eternity
  7. Zedd - True Colors
  8. Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$
  9. Years & Years - Communion
  10. Bring Me The Horizon - That’s The Spirit