Suicide Silence – Love Me To Death

At this point it feels as though anticipations for new Suicide Silence material can’t go any lower, especially coming off the back of a self-titled album that wasn’t quite as bad as so many made it out to be, but left a sour taste in so many mouths that it was always going to take some effort to come back from it. That’s why Love Me To Death seems to take the form it does, eschewing the nu-metal wonkiness for a more classic, surgical take on deathcore they’ve built their brand on, to the point where it can feel like a band doubling down on their most basic impulses to guarantee a hit. Sure, the directness of the heft is welcome to see again, and Eddie Hermida has the sort of acidic shriek that exudes a very pointed sense of brutality, but beyond that, what’s here is high-quality mosh fodder and very little else. That in itself is fine, but when Suicide Silence have previously looked a bit wider in terms of where they want their deathcore to go, boiling it down to this level can feel a bit underwhelming, even if it’s not entirely bad. There’s still a good deal to like here and it’s bound to win back older fans in droves, but at this stage it doesn’t feel entirely unreasonable to expect more, especially from a band who’ve proven they’re more than capable of delivering it.


Higher Power – Low Season

It already feels as though Higher Power’s new album is going to be one of the first crucial releases of 2020, because while they’ve always been a highly-praised name in the wider hardcore scene, they’ve yet to have their moment in the spotlight. And while lead single Seamless hinted that their time was due to come, Low Season really does feel like the underlining of that sentiment, tapping deeper than ever into their Turnstile-esque sensibilities for ‘90s alt-rock melodies in a levelling guitar groove and the sort of low-end crunch that still melodic to a fault but packs in some real muscle as well. Grunge definitely feels within Higher Power’s peripheral vision more than ever, and when it’s been woven into an already solid hardcore bedrock with a level of dexterity that really emphasises how malleable this band is, that’s worth praising to an enormous degree. If Higher Power continue down this thread, there’s something potential fantastic to come from them very soon.


Caspian – Flowers Of Light

While post-rock has never had the highest of profiles, Caspian have always been a band who’ve risen higher up the pile than most, generally thanks to having a better command of atmosphere without letting themselves meander too much in a way that a lot of their contemporaries can. What’s more, there feels like a conscious effort being made to shy away from post-rock tropes, especially on a track like Flowers Of Light, with Will Yip brought in as producer to give a ringing emo sensation to the guitars and general sense of focus added to the natural grandness. It’s a good fit on the whole (even if the constantly crashing cymbals can feel a tad overbearing), and with the near-constant crescendos and subtle twinkles and whistles to highlight the all-important nuance and delicacy, Flowers Of Light definitely has more to like than a lot of instrumental post-rock can. It’s a pretty solid example of why Caspian are one of the better bands to do this sort of thing, and how their ideas tend to translate a lot more effectively on the whole.


Ratboys – Alien With A Sleep Mask On

While post-rock has never had the highest of profiles, Caspian have always been a band who’ve risen higher up the pile than most, generally thanks to having a better command of atmosphere without letting themselves meander too much in a way that a lot of their contemporaries can. What’s more, there feels like a conscious effort being made to shy away from post-rock tropes, especially on a track like Flowers Of Light, with Will Yip brought in as producer to give a ringing emo sensation to the guitars and general sense of focus added to the natural grandness. It’s a good fit on the whole (even if the constantly crashing cymbals can feel a tad overbearing), and with the near-constant crescendos and subtle twinkles and whistles to highlight the all-important nuance and delicacy, Flowers Of Light definitely has more to like than a lot of instrumental post-rock can. It’s a pretty solid example of why Caspian are one of the better bands to do this sort of thing, and how their ideas tend to translate a lot more effectively on the whole.


Babyteeth – Look Like Death

In a way, it’s refreshing to have a band like Babyteeth casting the convoluted practice of falling into a particular sub-genre aside and holding fast within a more traditional, straight-up rock mould. Of course, that can definitely lead to what can feel like a lack of inspiration or creativity, but that hasn’t really sunken in yet, and Look Like Death is another example of how well this sort of thing is ultimately working. For one, the big guitars moulded into a brilliantly sticky hook have the sort of ease that always seems to connect, and while Camilla Roholm isn’t the most powerful vocalist in the world, she’s able to bring enough underlying snideness to her delivery that a song about society’s expectations of beauty should have. Like a lot of material like this, it doesn’t have the most longevity by virtue of being so simple, but Babyteeth continue to do it better than a lot of others, and moving forward like this should only do good things for them further down the line.


Sugarwolf – Scared Of The Dark

While their previous guise of Making Monsters did make a fair number of waves on their own, it’s good to see Sugarwolf really starting to pick up some steam now. A strong run of singles will undoubtedly do that, but a powerhouse vocalist like Emma Gallagher is definitely the sort of asset that elevates a pop-rock project like this into much higher territory. That’s definitely evident by Scared Of The Dark, with the big, open-ended production that’s so regularly favoured in this branch of the scene feeling much more forceful in its stormier presentation, and only made all the more enormous by Gallagher’s sublime smoothness and confidence that gives this track its sass and stomp. It’s the sort of track to see Sugarwolf moving into that bigger pop-rock conversation, even if they are yet to find a real killer app for themselves, but in a tight, undeniably infectious cut like this, they’ve got all the right tools to make something exceptional of themselves.


Words by Luke Nuttall

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