Caleb Shomo’s metalcore mob show no signs of relenting on album number three.
As Beartooth is Shomo’s brainchild, the lyricism on each album has followed a particular theme. On ‘Disgusting’ it was childhood trauma; on ‘Agressive’ it was Shomo’s raging against ex-partners, ex-bandmates and critics of rock music as a whole. On ‘Disease’, it’s Shomo’s struggles with his own mental health.
Beartooth albums have always been very much heart-on-sleeve, and often uncomfortably so. This is no different on ‘Disease’, as Shomo gives us an unflinching look at his struggles with Depression and Anxiety. More than that, the album actually feels like the journey a sufferer of these diseases goes on while experiencing their symptoms. ‘Manipulation’ has the frenetic energy of an anxiety induced panic attack; the drumbeat simulating the quickened heartbeat, and the lyrics showing the fear and paranoia perfectly.
Conversley, ‘Fire’ is the feeling when one is in the deepest depths of depression. Lyrically, the song focuses on despair and the absence of hope. The guitars, base and drums make the experience almost claustrophobic, as if the depression is all encompassing. It’s a great, albeit somewhat difficult, listening experience.
The opposite is true of ‘Believe’. The, sing-along chorus, soaring guitars and high frequency of ‘Whoa-oh’s’ signify the euphoria when you come out the other side of the depressive cycle. While you’re never cured of depression-it doesn’t work that way-this is definitely the sound of triumph at the end of a heavy battle.
Sonically, this isn’t too different from Beartooth’s previous two efforts. The band know how to combine the brutal guitar, drums and bass from hardcore and nu-metal, with pop-punk sensibilities of Shomo’s singing to make a brand of metalcore that is as accessible as it is aggressive.
Beartooth’s musicianship has shown improvement on this record. Shomo’s vocals show much more range; his singing reaches a variety of notes, and his screaming much less raspy on previous records. The guitars flirt with a few more intricate riffs and almost-solos, compared to previous records. However, Disease, at its heart, is a metalcore record. The band revel in being loud, and you’re never far from a pummelling breakdown on this record. When Beartooth can deliver them as skilfully as this, this isn’t a bad thing at all.
While the lyricism is at times negative, the majority of this record is filled with hooks, and will be as at home on modern-rock radio, as it will be in the record collections of the metalcore subculture’s most devout purists. This is definitely the band’s finest work to date, but also doesn’t sound like a band that’s reached its peak. If they can continue to push the boundaries of metalcore, while continuing to produce consistently fine records, the future of Beartooth will be very bright indeed.
Disease is out now via Red Bull Records.