Remember Drifter from these guys? Yeah, that was a pretty fucking sweet record. Well, if I knew that Heartsounds would top it come Internal Eyes, I would have held my tongue back then when I said that they were in the best form of their career. Scratch that because THIS album screams ‘best ever’!
This record is stuffed with emotionally-driven punk via the most appropriate doses of uptempo, melodic punk-rock that canvas so many influences musically. They swing from skate-punk to hail outs of 80s thrash metal. Tossing in these tomes of punk with modern melodic hardcore makes the record unique and allows space to breathe so their strategy pays dividends in spades. Everyone comes with their A-game in the band and the production quality, as high as it is, is based on an end-result that’s truly appreciable – heart and soul. This niche style of melodic, technical and pace in their punk rock throws the opening trio of tracks at you in one massive salvo.
It’s all Bad Religion-esque with the dueling vocals of Ben Murray and Laura Nichol alongside Murray’s immaculate guitars. “A Total Separation of Self” has a draining punk essence with so much melody before a calming lull unleashes the most cutting of solos, something Murray sprinkles all over the record. “Cycles” and “Internal Eyes” follow suit with guitars dancing perfectly off each other to hold the solid, pounding bassline of Bobby Taul. These tracks spring forward into “Internal Eyes” whose guitars are dissecting to the core with its sharp cuts that highlight how sonically impressive the mix is. Trey Derbes’ drumwork helps solidify the tighter-knit sound to the core with Murray even pulling off a more punkish Davey Havok tone at times with his melodic hardcore rhythm.
Murray’s delivery stretches without breaking, wailing or cracking as old-school punk throwbacks usually do. He maintains his, and the band’s patented style. Their travelling chords remind me of This Is Your Life from Richmond and “Where Are You?” sprays over the heartbreak of the world under Derbes’ stewardship. He kills it here before “First Light” offers an effortless, glossy and more alternative take on humans being erratic, damaged goods. They take aim here a la 90s alternative and it’s spot on.
They said they’d reach ‘an interesting new level of songwriting and musicianship, focusing heavily on technically driven, heavy metal-influenced guitar work, thundering drums, and harmony laden melodic dual vocal performances between Laura and Ben’. How right they were. Heartsounds’ riff and faster tempos amplify their reach so much and I can see fans old or new flocking to their shows. This album comprises hook-driven structures that don’t redefine anything but it manages to delve into exciting new ground for the band both musically and vocally while retaining their musical shape of old. One of the best things to hit this year.
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