By and large, hardcore tends to stick to its usual tried and tested template, British hardcore especially. So much so, that any new hype bands that break through may as well be chosen on a roulette wheel for all anyone knows. On paper, Essex’s Giants could be seen as following the same pattern – debut full-length Break The Cycle takes the usual melodic route in its take on hardcore, but there’s a definite spark to this album that at least makes it stand out a little bit.
To say that Break The Cycle is a boundary-pushing album may be stretching it a bit, but it would be unfair to reduce it simply ‘another hardcore album’. The hallmarks of a good melodic hardcore album are all there – namely coarse, sandpaper vocals, searing punk riffs and an extra shot of pace in the drums – but Giants don’t allow themselves to be limited. There’s a lot more melody present than in the work of a lot of bands of their ilk, brought to the fore by the presence of clean vocals. It’s here where Giants feel as though they stand out from the pack; their approach takes a more post-hardcore-influenced turn with choruses that wouldn’t feel out of place in mid-period We Are The Ocean tracks. They don’t feel disjointed either, with the likes of Did It Mean So Much To You? and I’m Not Around integrating the cleans and screams in a fully cohesive manner.
It helps to make a usually stagnant genre a lot more palatable, but Giants prove throughout Break The Cycle that even their more traditional hardcore elements are utilised to great effect. The title track kicks off with a groove that could level a building before launching into under two minutes of white-hot rage, while Resignation goes in an almost skate punk direction. Elsewhere, Evergreen feels like a true epic in its beefed-up chorus and strained vocals, and closer I’ve Been Low throws in some choppy punk guitar and a real flashy metal solo. The basic hardcore template remains largely the same throughout, but Break The Cycle has Giants chopping and changing throughout.
But while they largely manage to stick to their own path throughout, Giants unfortunately succumb to some quite easy to avoid genre tropes throughout this album. The most noticeable is the constant desire to hackney in sped-up drums whenever possible, even when they really don’t fit with the flow of the song (which, to be honest, is most of the time). Very, very occasionally, they’ll click as on Resignation, but often when they’re present they have a severe detrimental effect – the likes of Against The Grain and It’s Not All Bad News just feel like generic hardcore tracks because of them. It really is a mystery why they’re there in the first place; Giants show throughout Break The Cycle that they can write great hardcore on their own terms, and it really is disappointing to see what could’ve potentially been a fantastic album brought down a notch or two because of what seems to be playing it safe.
But even with these few black marks on their record, Break The Cycle sees Giants giving plenty of reasons to pay close attention to them over the coming months. This is clearly a debut album – it’s easy to tell from its overall naïvety and relative proximity to its influences. Having said that though, there haven’t been many debut albums released so far this year that show a band with as much potential to do great things as this. Break The Cycle is the jumping off point for Giants to really take off, and even now, they’re in a strong position to really do something great.
For fans of: Your Demise, Landscapes, Heights
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Break The Cycle’ by Giants is released on 1st April on Holy Roar Records.