Isn’t it great to have an upcoming metalcore band worth getting enthusiastic about? That’s been the case with LIMBS since their debut album Father’s Son in 2018, which mightn’t have deviated too far from the norm, but was marked improvement all the same simply for aiming a bit higher and hitting it more often. Since then, they’ve gotten a new vocalist in Austin McAuley, an addition that reflects the more-or-less lateral move between Coma Year and their previous era; in the wider world of metalcore, LIMBS continue to hold fast at the upper end through simply doing it better. Even with the restrictions of an EP—and one that has the inclinations of a band darting through different elements of their field to see what works, at that—Coma Year is remarkably solid, boasting a lack of real duds or substantially weaker links, and that’s actually rarer than it might appear. As far as sound goes, LIMBS hit a good balance between metalcore crunch and melodic fare that’s never too spacious or washed-out. There’s actual anthemic quality behind the title track and If I Go Before You that elevates McAuley’s more standard, genre-ready voice, and still being able to flip into chugging and stomping for something like Blood And Heel. It probably speaks more to metalcore as a whole that LIMBS find the successes they do with what should generally be considered the norm, but that isn’t to take away the skill they’ve got either. Seldom marred by overbearing production or deliberately locked-in vision, Coma Year just feels like a healthier variation on what’s been so steeply stagnating for ages now. It’s more toned and sharp with instrumental flair that still isn’t tremendous, but also isn’t swamping itself out to the point of unrecognisability. Even with writing that’s not averse to indulging in metalcore woe and melodrama, it’s not the death knell that so many would find it to be. Again, that really isn’t saying much about LIMBS themselves, and more about the failings of the scene around them, but bucking those depressingly prolific trends isn’t nothing, particularly as a means to jumpstart what’s otherwise mediocre at the very best. LIMBS seem to consistently be doing all the most beneficial things for themselves and having them pay off, which alone makes it worth sticking around to see what comes next from them.
For fans of: Bring Me The Horizon, Underøath, Greyhaven
‘Coma Year’ by LIMBS is released on 24th June on UNFD.
Living Without Death’s Permission
Bands in the same ballpark as RXPTRS really aren’t that uncommon—you’ll typically find them around the more traditional end of heavy rock, with hype that’s more regionally centred as opposed to coming from any big publication. As well, a lot of them sound too outdated to amount to much in the long term, so credit to RXPTRS straight away for somewhat trying to feel like their own thing. At the risk of overselling this, there’s certainly more energy from their among their field thanks to traces of punk and hardcore among what’s still recognisably meat-and-potatoes metal. They’re striving for more personality, something which comes through in vocalist Simon Roach’s musings and explorations on life, both his own perspective after a near-fatal car accident on Burning Pages, or that of his ailing grandmother deciding she no longer wants to live on Let Me Die How I Want. There’s unquestionably more to this than just a makeover to lowest-common-denominator pub-rock; RXPTRS do feel as though they’re going the distance and looking to make an album with real persistence behind it. And for some, that’ll be more than enough when accompanied with an instrumental palette that slathers on the riffs and sounds pretty meaty in doing so. The problem is that it doesn’t always stick the landing as much try to play it off, given how severe the bloat can be without the dynamism to mitigate it. Besides the heated, ragged The Death Rattle that’s the truest instance of a punk streak, and a couple of more spacious, widescreen cuts like Cold Ground and Let Me Die How I Want, Living Without Death’s Permission suffers from how weighed-down it is by RXPTRS’ own turbocharging. Better that than a boring album, definitely, but you don’t realise how little individuality these ideas have when they’re stacked in a gauntlet like this. The playing is good but it’s rare to be totally engaged or feel as though they’re providing much of anything special. It’s only Roach’s singing that properly stands out, in a combination between Arcane Roots’ Andrew Groves and Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy that has all of the sky-piercing shrillness with none of the nuance. It does need to be stressed that this isn’t bad, but RXPTRS are still getting caught on their own ceiling rather than breaking through it, which they do seem capable of doing. At least they aren’t a total nonentity in their field, which might seem like the faintest of concessions but given some of the similar prospects around them, it counts for more than it appears to.
For fans of: Kill The Lights, The Five Hundred, New Device
‘Living Without Death’s Permission’ by RXPTRS is released on 24th June on Metal Blade Records.
Gang Called Speed
Fresh from the Australian hardcore scene come Speed, a band with an impressively generic name but a sound that more than makes up for it. There’s a fair amount to them that justifies the flickers of groundswell they’ve been experiencing, particularly in the touches to their sound that somewhat recolours the basement-hardcore beatdown. Gang Called Speed is a bit more wiry and tense overall; there’s plenty of muscle to the guitars still, but Kane Vardon’s drum tone is notably sharper and acidic, to where flourishes and rolls on a track like Not That Nice end up feeling closer and more oppressive. As ever with the best hardcore, the final product is effectively devoid of fat, even the instrument cut Every Man For Themself that coils up the grind and groove of Speed’s sound into something pleasingly concise. As for vocalist Jem, he’s probably the lynchpin factor in defining where this band currently land, where he’ll gnash and eviscerate further than just shouts on songs like Move and Big Bite, to put forward a looser edge while still having plenty of swagger. They’re all examples of where Speed come across as a half-step outside the traditional hardcore rubric; they’re ultimately less predictable or reliant on sheer clobbering force, even if that’s still there in spades. It’s just a bit more pliable overall, taking the ideals in sound and lyricism but adding enough of a twist to make it noticeable. There isn’t much else to really say beyond that either, given that the fundamentals that Speed build on are so inherently and historically strong, and as of now, it’s just pinches of their own ingredients that are doing the most work. Still, it’s not an insignificant amount of work they are doing, and the hardcore zealots to whom this is directed will have a fun fifteen-ish minutes regardless.
For fans of: Biohazard, Trapped Under Ice, Scowl
‘Gang Called Speed’ by Speed is released on 24th June on Flatspot Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall