It’s been a rough old time for Heart Of A Coward lately, but in the current musical climate, it doesn’t seem all the shocking. Hype can only get a band so far, and even for the mountains of it that’s been piled on Heart Of A Coward for what seems like every one of their previous three albums, it’s unfortunately never manifested in something more tangible, a reality that’s become all too common across the board as of late. Thus, while the departure of vocalist Jamie Graham and a subsequent four-year hiatus was disappointing, it ultimately felt on the cards, with the best case scenario being the band taking time out to recuperate and sort themselves out, and the worst being fading into obscurity without so much as a trace. And it’s definitely promising to see that the latter didn’t happen; Heart Of A Coward have always stood out amount the tech-metalcore scene, and to see them reach a point where they feel comfortable moving back into the lane and trying again, now with new vocalist Kaan Tasan in tow, feels like a promising development at getting back to better, more stable climes once again.

But while it would be wrong to insinuate that The Disconnect is a bad album, it definitely feels as though Heart Of A Coward are playing the long game when it comes to reaching their peak again. In comparison to what they’d previously brought to the table, this one feels a lot more comfortable with where it’s standing, serving as a means to plant their feet back in the ground and prepare to build on this later. That’s all pretty understandable, but when Heart Of A Coward are capable of so much more than this, an album as no-frills as The Disconnect can come across like they’re selling themselves short rather than easing themselves back in. The results are definitely solid and serviceable, sure, but that’s significantly further below this band’s usual watermark to stand out as much more than a profoundly transitional album.

As such, there isn’t a great deal to say about The Disconnect that can also be applied to countless other tech-metal and metalcore albums, that being Heart Of A Coward are incredibly and consistently solid at what they do without ever breaking the mould of exceeding beyond their boundaries. What makes it especially difficult is that this is a particular subset of the genre currently dominated by Architects, and that only makes The Disconnect string of beat-hitting pale all the more by comparison. Taken as its own independent entity though, there’s still a good deal to like, particularly an enormous guitar tone that makes itself well and truly known early on with a track like Down In Ruin, and a penchant for melody to beef up the size a bit more and allow Suffocate to move deeper into the Architects well that always produces a fruitful result. The key point of interest, though, comes with what Tasan can bring to the table in such a pivotal role as frontman, and unfortunately, it seems to be his presence that prevents Heart Of A Coward from moving up any further. That’s not to say that he’s a bad vocalist – he’s got all the necessary power and range, especially when moving into more overtly aggressive territory like on Collapse – but in terms of individuality, that’s something that’s been stripped away from this band to their intense detriment. It’s where this album was always inevitably going to stumble; it’s all well and good having the confidence to deliver this sort of material (which, for the record, Heart Of A Coward have in spades), but when everything from the lyrics to the instrumentation to the dense, metallic production feels lifted from umpteen other metal albums in this exact vein, it leaves The Disconnect feeling like just another album that will try and, most likely, fail to make its mark.

And honestly, it’s something that Heart Of A Coward deserve better than. They’re capable of so much more than just the bare minimum, but beyond the proficiency with which this album is executed, there’s very little here that makes that as prominent as it should be. And for as easy and tempting as it is to be charitable to The Disconnect as a relatively tentative step back into the spotlight for a band who’s been away for so long, that can’t be a suitable cover-up when it ultimately falls into territory that underwhelms a bit too much. Again, it does its job well enough, but Heart Of A Coward have always been above that, and having this as their return isn’t quite the statement they were looking to make.

6/10

For fans of: Architects, Northlane, Carcer City
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘The Disconnect’ by Heart Of A Coward is released on 7th June on Arising Empire Records.

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