Heart Of A Coward

Hope & Hindrance

Written by: AP on 27/08/2012 20:50:42

Ever since Periphery brought djent into the limelight a few years ago, a huge amount of bands have tried their hand at recreating the very special sound pioneered by Meshuggah and failed. Most of them have the basics down, but lack the subtlety and ear for groove to truly hold a candle against the Swedes' brilliance. So do the British born Heart of a Coward manage to accomplish the deed on their debut album, "Hope & Hindrance"?

The answer is both yes and no, and it quite simply comes down to the dynamics of the album. It essentially packs three types of songs: those that are nigh indistinguishable from post-"obZen" era Meshuggah; those that take a more progressive approach and venture ways paved by TesseracT on last year's magnificent "One"; and those that recall Heart of a Coward's original hardcore influenced style. There is an example of each on display right off the bat in the opening trio "Motion", "All Eyes to the Sky" and "Around a Girl (in 80 Days)" respectively, and not surprisingly, those are laid out descending order of quality. In "Motion", Heart of a Coward play djent to perfection; it is monstrously heavy, structured against a shifting time signature, laden with unreal grooves, and overcast with eerie ambiance - the sort of song that will have crowds headbanging with instant effect. "All Eyes to the Sky" is a showcase for the band's songwriting prowess; a spacious progressive piece characterized by its immense instrumental detail, and an opportunity for former Sylosis frontman Jamie Graham to test his clean singing abilities, which are sadly not his strongest asset and thus a slight hindrance to an otherwise magnificent song. "Around a Girl (in 80 Days)", one of three re-recorded takes from the band's "Dead Sea" EP alongside "We Stand As One" and "And Only Time Will Tell", is one of those songs that ensures the band a solid footing among their slam dancing fans, but despite sharing the glorious 7-string tone of the previous two, it lacks the melody and variety to make as powerful an impact.

But even so, the strength and sheer menace of standout tracks like "Shade" and "Nightmare" is sufficient to establish Heart of a Coward as one of the most faithful practitioners of the djent genre. Add to that their knack for venturing into progressive landscapes as well, and the weaker moments are easily forgotten. As such, the next logical step in the band's evolution would be to shed themselves of their moshist roots and focus on their strengths to produce an album that even sworn followers of Meshuggah might embrace whole-heartedly - the penultimate djent album, if you will. Though it is a matter of opinion of course, it seems to me that Heart of a Coward are more comfortable with that genre that they are with hardcore. The best moments in the three hardcore influenced songs here certainly hint at grandiosity, but their impact is hindered by the band's insistence of including plentiful two-step elements in them. This is an appropriate album title, then, as there are traces of both hope and hindrance at play here, though fortunately much more of the former than the latter.


Download: Motion, All Eyes to the Sky, Shade, Nightmare
For the fans of: Meshuggah, Monuments, Red Seas Fire, TesseracT
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.05.2012

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