This album initially seemed like one of those debuts that would constantly be threatened but would never materialise. For as much promise as Blood Youth showed on their last couple of EPs (particularly their Closure EP which was really quite excellent), and even with the stream of touring and festival slots that they’ve used to get their name out there, Blood Youth have always felt stuck in the doldrums that many young, British melodic hardcore bands end up in. Call it an unwarranted worry, but given the fate of their previous incarnation Climates, and the cutthroat nature of the scene they find themselves in which makes it difficult enough to get a first chance, let alone a second, Blood Youth have been fighting an uphill battle since day dot. It all makes Beyond Repair something of a milestone, a full-length that’s actually out into the wild, regardless of quality.
Perhaps that’s for the best too, as while Beyond Repair is definitely a solid album, it’s one that shows that Blood Youth still have a lot of work to do if they really want to transition into greatness. It’s largely an issue of the music itself, in that Blood Youth don’t exactly draw on their influences rather than trace them wholesale and use that as a rigid blueprint. The Beartooth comparisons are still plentiful and valid – the verses of a track like Buying Time are delivered in a similarly caustic, barked style, and Kaya Tarsus’ vocals do bear more than a passing resemblance to Caleb Shomo’s – but really, rebrand this as a Beartooth album and what changes? Blood Youth still feel like they’re in that confusing stage of emulating their influences entirely without adding any of their own flavour, and apart from I Remember whose more prominent bass gives it the effect of being dirtier and more low-slung, there’s very little to denote a unique identity. But even then, Blood Youth feel as though they’re only taking the basics of the sound to work with. The windswept, clean choruses feel as though they’ve been imported from another song entirely, and the choice to base this entire album around seething rage and nothing else (as opposed to the smaller confines on an EP where it can and has worked in the past) can make it feel slightly one-dimensional.
That might seem a lot to criticise and still call Beyond Repair ‘solid’, but the hunger and drive that Blood Youth display makes up for a lot. A big factor in this is the production which trims away any needless frills to keep everything as tight and lean as possible. The lack of any unnecessary interference keeps Tarsus’ vocals at their sharpest, particularly in his screams on tracks like Parasite and Man Made Disaster where his unclean style takes the lead. A focus on melody rarely distracts from this either, given the carving, groove-heavy guitars of Savanna, even though Sam Hallett’s more aggressive drumming on a track like What I’m Running From feels like a more natural foil. Even the biggest choruses on the likes of Reason To Stay, which could have been lifted from any number of Britrock crowd-pleasers, don’t detract from the moment too much.
What’s more, the lack of any fat keeps the anger feeling genuine, the sort of laser focus that a lot of so-called ‘angry’ bands could do with adopting to feel a lot more real. It’s certainly fitting for an album whose entire concept surrounds dealing with anger in the modern age, from having a good old-fashioned rant on I Remember to getting a bit too rowdy on a night out on Making Waves. Thematically it’s a bit of a fragmented one, but in terms of setting out what they intend to do, namely vent, scream and let loose, Beyond Repair does a fine job.
Even with the numerous criticisms that can be dealt out to it, Blood Youth’s debut is definitely easy to enjoy. For as uncomplicated and unaware of nuance as it can be, Beyond Repair makes up for that with the sort of energy and bone-crushing bite that a new band should have. Even if they will need to move into their own lane before long in terms of a definable sound, Blood Youth have already laid down some impressive foundations that need tweaking at the minute, but can turn out something sooner rather than later.
For fans of: Beartooth, Stick To Your Guns, A Day To Remember
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Beyond Repair’ by Blood Youth is released on 7th April on Rude Records.