There’s something unwittingly revealing about the release of Caskets’ second album, namely how it’s coming out almost two years to the day since their first. A simple coincidence can’t be ruled out, of course, but it’s telling how it promotes a uniformity that a band like this can fall into with very little trouble. Because, rather pertinently, Caskets really, really want to be Holding Absence. And it’s not hard to twig in the slightest—it’s post-hardcore trying to be as enormous and heart-rending as possible, with cinematic production gloss filling every crevice to hammer that grandeur in even deeper.
So as far as the aforementioned uniformity goes, it’s not an unfounded opinion by any stretch. As a follow-up to Lost Souls’ groundwork, and an endeavour to hit a genre point that the past few years have deemed exceptionally fertile, Reflections arrives exactly how you’d expect with not a hair out of place. Though none of that is intended as a gripe; Caskets actually pull all of this off rather well. Or, in any case, well enough to where they’re a suitable addition rather than an outright replacement.
On that note though, the more direct the comparisons are, the more Caskets begin to shrink beneath them. Parallels drawn to Holding Absence are, at all times, unavoidable, as is the browbeating that Reflections undergoes when it doesn’t quite stack up. The highs just aren’t as dynamic or towering, despite how hard Caskets try to catch up. Likewise, the depth and flair in songwriting isn’t totally there with the genuine article either, mostly down to Caskets’ travelling down some well-worn avenues of depressive catharsis and emotional release that have a fairly sturdy ceiling on them at this point. Unsurprisingly then, it’s the moments of genuine brightness and overcoming that leap out most; you can definitely gravitate towards the strings and cinematic ambience that shape the closer Better Way Out, but it’s More Than Misery’s wham-line of “My life’s worth more than misery” that slugs the hardest.
They’re the points where Reflections really comes into its own, but in truth, viewing in a vacuum yields some solid results across the board. It’s there that Caskets’ vision can be appreciated the most, free of the yoke placed on it by external influences, and allowed to spread its wing unimpeded. Under those circumstance, the scope and bombast connect way more, bulldozing all in their wake through sheer might on Six Feet Down and Silhouettes, or happening upon an ultimate earworm like on Too Late or Guiding Light that proves to be an invaluable resource. On top of that, Caskets do trend a bit closer to metalcore in their added instrumental crunch, which doesn’t affect hugely but can deepen the shades used in their monochrome style, if nothing else.
Of course, with all of that in place, it’s hard not to circle back round to Holding Absence again. It’s the natural reaction when Caskets have so much in common with them, laid up so explicitly. But the thing is, while that might weigh on Reflections, it’s not a bad thing either. It puts into perspective how much closer Caskets are than others who’ve tried for a similar position, even just in a case of replicating the right cues. Matt Flood’s vocals, for example, are planted in the same 2010s Britrock regionality as Lucas Woodland’s, but although the range is definitely narrower, the potential for vulnerability and inextinguishable passion hasn’t budged. There’s really not much on Reflections that finds Caskets at a severe disadvantage by comparison; the rising tide has indeed lifted their ship, though that shouldn’t discount how being generally good in their own right is the healthier and more considerable contributor.
Now, that isn’t to oversell this by any means. As far as catching up goes, Caskets aren’t closing the lead of that other band singlehandedly, nor do they display much that’d give them a tangible edge over them. But y’know what? It’s hard to listen to Reflections and not be encouraged by it, especially when so many who’ve tried similar tactics have fizzled out before seeing any proper results. Not Caskets, though, who definitively have their feet firmly on the ground, and show a whole load of promise that’ll see them continue forward on its own. For not trying to rush the catch-up, there’s so much more that’s worthwhile ready to bloom from this.
For fans of: Holding Absence, Thousand Below, Acres
‘Reflections’ by Caskets is released on 11th August on Sharptone Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall