This Bright And Beautiful World
When Greyhaven released Empty Black in 2018, you could tell that the narrative around them was trying to present them as a lot more than just another tech-metal band. They got there to an extent, where the shades of Every Time I Die and The Dillinger Escape Plan were noteworthy enough, but the ties hadn’t fully been severed, generally to their detriment in how it felt that they could snap back to that old style at any point. They might have tried to prolong the hit with This Bright And Beautiful World by releasing All Candy as an early single, which sounds nothing like the rest of album in a pretty rich and fluid progressive mould, almost poppy compared to where the rest of the album ends up. Because, yet again, this is an example of proficiency nabbing top billing over memorable or impactful composition and writing, the lynchpin of frustrations with progressive music that Greyhaven are holed up upon, albeit not to quite as impenetrable an extent. Above all, it’s Ethan Spray’s drumming that stands out the most, tight and fierce with an ear for technicality that’s responsible for a lot of the noteworthy flair across the album. Credit needs to be given to the production as well for not being as chromed-over and characterless as tech-metal is liable to go; the fire hasn’t been snuffed out by an overly mechanical presentation, which is undoubtedly a good thing. But beyond that, the matter still stands that tech-metal can supremely lack actual songs, not just compositions that show off skill without much else. It’s no coincidence that All Candy is really the only deeply memorable song here, given that it breaks away from the norm and shows Greyhaven acting in a much more pliable way. Otherwise, you’ve heard a lot of what This Bright And Beautiful World has to offer before, in what’s a marginally stronger take on the boilerplate formula, but boilerplate nonetheless. Brent Mills can sell his lyrics about depression and frustration with force, but even in that, compared to some of their more specific lyrical turns they’ve embarked on in the past, it’s not the strongest representation of what Greyhaven are capable of. They aren’t underselling, per se, but they can and have been more impressive than this in the past; at the very least, they’ve been able to justify why they’re so much better than the rest.
For fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Silent Planet, Thornhill
‘This Bright And Beautiful World’ by Greyhaven is released on 15th April on Rude Records / Equal Vision Records.
After about 30 seconds of Prepuce’s opening track, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what Atoll’s gimmick is. The first half is an extended clip from an episode of Family Guy; the second is a whiplash transition into slam brutality. Yep, it’s another one of these, in which the goofiness of paratextual influences is intended for stark contrast with how violent and guttural their death metal palette is, and where the ‘hilarity’ of it runs out of steam rather quickly. We basically got the exact same thing from Party Cannon only a couple of months back, and while Prepuce is slightly more bearable—an EP’s length and lack of extended tracks will do that—the same issues are present in earnest. Chief among them is the feeling of Atoll’s ‘humour’ never amounting to much of worth, when voice clips will be stitched in without serving any real purpose. That’s especially true when they’re effectively dropped from Molotov Cock Tease onwards, fittingly being where Atoll’s most tangibly interesting moments are. They aren’t numerous, but the scraping, bending tone feed through the end of Hitchhiker is probably the strongest here, simply for providing something new to a sound that regularly misses it. Prepuce is chronically battering and ferocious, which will undoubtedly be enough for some, but even those ideas are presented without much innovation, let alone the ‘party-slam’ tropes that will apply to that twofold. As is often the case, the pebble-gargling roars of Wade Taylor mean that any noteworthy lyrical sentiment is near-impossible to deduce—though with titles like Cirrhosis For Dinner and Knifed In The Butt, you can make an educated guess—but it’s paired with production that’s good and heavy enough to hold on to a reliable death metal standard. It just doesn’t do much to break out of that or impress outside the usual criteria, something that such a niche sub-scene could do with more than anything else. The whole comedy-slam thing can be hard to outright enjoy as it is, and a band like Atoll adhering to it to the letter isn’t shifting those perceptions whatsoever.
For fans of: Party Cannon, Decapitated, Extermination Dismemberment
‘Prepuce’ by Atoll is released on 15th April on Unique Leader Records.
A Dangerous Method Vol. 1
Don’t be too put off by some initial emo-rap tagging—Triple One are a fair bit more than just another body to hop on a currently dying trend. They’re a group, for starters, which immediately welcomes something a bit more diverse and fleshed-out, but that also applies to their sonic palette too, closer to indie-leaning alt-rap finished with a darker slant than what a genre crushed under its own preconceptions would allow. It means that new mixtape A Dangerous Method Vol. 1 thankfully has more flair than average, to where even Triple One’s shortcomings aren’t as inherently burdening. Issues with production being a bit dry and flat won’t immediately go away as shown on Fuhwimme and Come Over, and while the enhanced clarity in delivery is welcome, the themes aren’t bestowed the same sort of polish. Crushing, overwrought depression is a bit less swamed overall, but the benchmarks of an emo-rap standard are still visible under the additional layers. That’s easier to overlook when Triple One do genuinely feel freer within that style though; the three vocalists playing different roles make for a neat new setup (especially on a song like Ghost where having a dedicated hook-smith in Lil Dijon works wonders), and it opens opportunities for more dexterity and nimble tradeoffs on Driving Range / Tee Off. Similarly, it makes the darker, more oppressive turns like Gunshow and Blood Rave feel earned, when the overwhelming void isn’t the only mood that Triple One are trying to convey. The production is less impressive than some of their contemporaries overall—it’s hard to really pin down, but it’s just less effective in scale overall—but the greater breadth of sounds is definitely appreciated for how they’re being worked. It’s just good to see something being done with a style that’s felt near-motionless pretty much since inception, and Triple One probably get the closest to successfully opening it out in a while. It probably says more about emo-rap on the whole that this still isn’t fantastic, but the fact it’s worth paying attention to more than the vast majority of chancers speaks volumes here.
For fans of: nothing,nowhere., Lil Lotus, Bexey
‘A Dangerous Method Vol. 1’ by Triple One is out now.
The critical reappraisal of nu-metal is all well and good, but surely there has to be a limit to how far that goes, right? Yeah, it’s refreshing to see people admit now that Limp Bizkit were a lot of fun, but that whole movement was distinctly in the right place at the right time, and doesn’t need to be replicated now. That might not be the whole picture with Sicksense, but it’s a distinct flavour they produce, in a project helmed by Vicky Psarakis of The Agonist and Robby J. Fonts of Stuck Mojo with about as much grace and tact as one would expect from that description. Psarakis is what holds this all together honestly, with big, belting hooks that at least produce some semblence of anthemic quality against an otherwise pretty standard nu-metal backdrop. To praise the ear for grooves here is hitting the bare minimum of what this stuff entails, mostly coming from Soul Snatcher having the most propulsive roil and rumble to it. It isn’t as dated as it could be either, though that’s not exactly a high watermark, especially when the low-hanging guitars and bass aren’t innovating on the template for two decades ago, nor do they match the best of what that era offered. There’s a definite feeling of mid-tier permeating across these five tracks, not helped in the slightest by Fonts’ presence as a rapper. He never hits the nadir again of getting distractingly out of time like he does on the opening title track, a fact which makes basic flows and swagger laid on molasses-thick on Make Believe and Heart Of Stone no less off-putting but not actively kneecapping. At least the writing is just expectedly bad, ranging from nu-metal chest-puffing at ‘best’, to trying to cram in social commentary from all angles for an unwieldy glob of a sentiment on Make Believe. In general, it just doesn’t feel like there’s a need for this sort of thing anymore; nu-metal has actually progressed, much to the disbelief of its detractors, to where it can do more than what would’ve simply slunk into to background in the early 2000s. All that Sicksense really have going for them on that front is that they’re a bit heavier; otherwise, this barely has a right to exist anymore.
For fans of: Soil, Wicked Wisdom, Straight Line Stitch
‘Kings Today’ by Sicksense is released on 22nd April.
Words by Luke Nuttall