Album Review: Tightrope/Brutal Youth Split

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Both Brutal Youth and Tightrope have a tendency towards breakneck speed and melodic inflections.

With that description in mind, it would be easy to view the bands as interchangeable. Same sound, different name. Thankfully, that’s not the case. These two bands, while they play similar styles, contrast in dramatic ways. Simultaneously a lesson in modern melodic hardcore and songwriting idiosyncrasy, both bands take distinctly different shots at the same genre, and both hit the target in unique ways.

As the first track, “Deathbed,” blasts out of the starting gates, I’m confronted with how Brutal Youth carefully manage the two key elements, and genre namesake, of melodic hardcore. The melodies feel almost incidental sometimes, as the natural cadences find their own rapid fire notes to cling to. As usual, melodic hardcore’s leading genre trope is present, but the ‘woahs’ are used well, often times to give the listener a melodic breather after a slew of rapidly delivered couplets. Despite the raw, aggressive nature of their sound, Brutal Youth’s lyrics are surprisingly emotional and often touching. The juxtaposition is more than welcome and adds a fresh perspective on their apparent energy.

Tightrope, however, is a different animal, and accordingly behaves differently. The vocals are lower and more gravelly, channeling Hot Water Music; and this time melody is at the forefront. Overall, Tightrope’s contributions feel more composed, but they’re not lacking in speed. The lyrics are well written for the most part, but, after listening to the haphazard bravado and deeply personal songs on Brutal Youth’s side, a song celebrating hard partying at Pouzza Fest feels frivolous. But with that said, Tightrope does end the split well with the biggest hook of either batch of songs on “100 Unagi.”

As a medium, the split gives you the unique opportunity to compare music in a vacuum. Similarities begin to wash away and whatever contrasts, no matter how small, become defining. Brutal Youth and Tightrope have worked together well and made a highly listenable split that allows the listener two different takes on melodic hardcore. What more could you ask for?

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