Album Review: Youth Funeral – “Heavenward”

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From listening to the instrumental track Bloom – the opening track on Youth Funeral’s first full-length release – it appears evident that the band has a crucial understanding of the intricacies and subtleties of their instruments. The track showcases the groups command over their craft, with some exceptional notes shining through the instrumental. This is followed up by a track called Lonely Man, which presents a truer indicator of their style.

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The tone of the music made it immediately apparent to me that the band is serious about their work and capable of producing some truly distinctive material. The profound rumbling of the bass and the dread inducing nature of the guitar work cascades through the listener by way of the drums. Musically, I found the work to be of an extremely high quality. Vocally, I was also impressed, but would – personally – have liked to have heard some more experimentation. This is the bands longest release to date, so it is possible that there might be more vocal experimentation to come. In Only In Sleep Safe – there is a little bit of singing, but it merely supports the screaming, and is difficult to hear. This is a shame as some lighter vocals may have aided the melody or enhanced the ominous character of the music. These opinions of mine on the vocals are purely subjective, and it is because I am such a fan of this release that I am critical in this regard, that being said, I defer to the band, since one thing that was clear to me was that they know what they are doing. Another criticism is that the songs do not necessarily flow into each other particularly well, this is especially apparent between the first and second track. I know that it is not a pre-requisite for a good release, but it is noticeable.

The band are able – very well – to infuse light and heavy characteristics of their broader genre. The understanding this displays will likely serve the band well. They seem capable of taking interesting elements from different parts of the spectrum of their style. This makes the release particularly moreish, containing elements I should assume would be in line with most peoples sensibilities. The band in this way manages to cater for, respect and utilise a diverse range of sounds. The bass shines through in this record, which is seldom the case, I think.

The album finishes with With Love I Weep – an example of a song that encapsulates everything I’ve said about it. This song, perhaps more than any other, highlights the earthy power of the vocals, the gravitas of the bass and atmospheric and hard hitting guitar, tied together nicely by the drums. My only problem with it is that it is the last song on the album; it sounds as if it should lead into the finale but it is the finale. This left me in surprise that the music had stopped, but this could be considered a good thing, since it sent me back to the beginning.

This release gets four and a half stars from me because it kept me coming back, was anything but pretentious, showed the bands strong understanding of their craft and was extremely enjoyable. I would love to catch them live. I deducted half a star because the small amount of vocal experimentation was all but hidden and because the final track left me in denial that the album was finished. Plus, it’s their first album… what am I gonna do, give them five stars?

4.5/5 Stars


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