Beartooth – ‘Disease’ – 28/09/18
Hardcore outfit Beartooth’s music has always been cathartic for Caleb Shomo to write. Each album is filled with raw emotion and brutal honesty that is wrapped up in colossal guitar riffs and primal screams of angst. ‘Disease’, the band’s third studio album is no different.
The new album gives both an overview, and a deep insight into personal issues in Shomo’s life. Different lyrics and themes become obvious at different points, as the focus shifts. ‘Disease’, the title track explores Shomo’s childhood issues and battles with mental illness. This record came from many dark moments, and it exactly what Shomo intended to create.
Opening the album is ‘Greatness or Death’. The vocal is soft and immediately hints at the honesty encased in this record. In an instant the softness is gone, as many layers of dynamic guitars and pounding drums fill the stereo field. The choruses are anthemic, yet the song is predictable – Beartooth have a stock writing format that they don’t often stray from.
Shomo’s vocal prowess shows in ‘Fire’; his voice switches from unrefined screams to melodical, emotional croons in an instant. The upbeat tempo and warm tone of the guitars does little to mask the dark nature of the lyrics. Many musical elements come together to create a song that can only be described as ‘memorable’.
Short and sweet, yet catchy is the track ‘You Never Know’. Fuzzy guitars and distorted vocals cleverly capture attention while the punchy drums and the immense sing-along chorus shows energy and flair. Two styles meet here, as a beefy breakdown transitions into a slow moment where vocals take centre stage. You Never Know is full of dynamic moments and constant changes in guitar riffs and styles.
The distorted guitars of ‘Afterall’ contrast Shomo’s clean vocals, which are pretty and pained. Musically, this track is stripped down to the basics; with a slower tempo and reserved guitars, the main focus is Shomo’s lyrical ability and the varied musical influences he has.
These varied influences are further highlighted in ‘Believe’, a dynamic pop song with a hardcore edge. While it still follows Shomo’s tried and tested writing formula, there’s growth within the track as different instruments fade in and out. The positive spin on these lyrics breaks up the real themes of the album, and the anthemic chorus gives the feeling of fun.
Reverb on soft vocals and synthesizers creates a foundation for the beautiful ‘Clever’. Shomo’s vocal is full-bodied and the song heart-breaking. While Afterall featured just the basics, Clever strips things back even further: the focus is drawn to the sincere lyrics, whilst synths and buzzing guitars fill the background.
Disease is an album that flits between angst and assurance as Shomo writes his way through different circumstances and events. There are tracks that reflect Beartooth’s hell-raising live shows, and others that show a softer nature to these hardcore musicians. While it’s easy to anticipate the twists and turns in the tracks, the album is filled with hardcore anthems and an honesty that only Beartooth have.
Review: Dottie Giles