Heart Of A Coward

Severance

Written by: PP on 13/01/2014 22:32:18

Heart Of A Coward is the sort of band that requires plenty of active listening before you'll effectively get what they are doing. At first, an album like "Severance", their sophomore album, will just seem like mindless chugging where the guitars have been artificially compressed to sound as down-tuned and heavy as possible, with little regard given to actual songwriting. To an extent, this is valid criticism of the album, if not the entirety of djent metal in general, Meshuggah included. But the hypnotic riffage and plentiful low-range groove soon grows on its listener, especially once the progressive passages begin to unveil themselves from underneath the brutalized vocals and endless karate mosh friendly breakdowns.

Testosterone, meet groove. Groove, meet testosterone. To simplify "Severance" like that wouldn't be necessarily wrong, given how heavy its djent-y guitars and vocals are most of the time. However, the introduction of occasional clean vocals adds haunting beauty to otherwise brutally down-tuned songs, like "Prey" and "Distance", the latter of which features neat guitar trickery in what is basically a djent version of tremolo shredding. With the cleans, the soundscapes become more complex and textured, resulting in lots of variety in what could otherwise be a monotonous chug-chug listen. Alas, songs like "Deadweight", which rely more on the heavy element and less on progressive undertones and/or clean vocal harmonies, feel rather artificial given the modernized state that the production leaves the guitars in. Still, the lead guitar in "Eclipsed" that follows leaves its listener with a watery mouth of wanting more, and the mixture of cleans and technical guitar on "Mirrors" should be enough to appease any wanton TesseracT fans out there.

But even so, "Severance" is a difficult album to become friends with for several reasons. One, the album may be too heavy for its own good, with more focus seemingly spent on intensifying the interplay between hardcore chanting, metallic growling, and the lowest groove possible to deliver on the guitar scales. It does give the band a muscular sound, but it leaves much to be desired from a songwriting perspective. Two, the songs eventually begin to blend into one another, leaving behind deafening breakdowns and djent groove but few true highlight moments, discounting the few songs mentioned in this review. It's not exactly bland, but not particularly interesting either. Maybe the djent movement has already reached its boiling point and is now well on its way of becoming yet another over-saturated trend?

Download: Prey, Distance, Mirrors
For the fans of: Meshuggah, TesseracT, Monuments
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.11.2013
Century Media

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