With the release of their third album, if you are unsure of who Beartooth are by now you must hide in the same places I do.
The band is driven by Caleb Shomo who, as well as being the vocalist, still records all of the instruments himself in the studio making this as much a solo project as the band that they are on stage. Beartooth is his take on modern metalcore, the music as an outlet and release for his depression and anxiety issues as previously heard on albums Disgusting and Aggressive.
And that is the big issue with this album, it is just another record in Beartooth’s canon. Sure, the heavy bits are heavy and the choruses are clean as a general unwritten rule, but beyond that the band do not go out of their way to try anything different or stretch their wings lyrically.
With this knowledge, the album opens with one of the better tracks. ‘Greatness or Death’ starts with a softly played acoustic guitar as Shomo laments his mental state before the music comes leaping out at the 20 second mark, straight into the band’s formulaic approach. As if to display exactly what the problem is here, title track ‘Disease’ follows with the same quiet open, loud mid, and soaring chorus as the previous track.
Caleb Shomo’s lyrics show heart and passion, and give hope to anyone who has ever suffered from depression and or anxiety with a light at the end of the tunnel approach, something that I readily admit helps me identify with some of the struggles he discusses so personally in his lyrics. It’s the container that holds it all in that lets this album down. There is now a solid core of great musicians behind the vocalist and although Beartooth is his baby, maybe it’s time his grip on the reigns loosened up just a little so that some new musical ideas can flourish.
Disease isn’t all bad, just far too formulaic. I enjoyed the first album, and thought that the second release at least attempted one or two different things (‘King of Anything’ is still the best song Caleb has written) even if it stuck to verse-chorus-breakdown-repeat that now makes this album feel weak. There are strong points, just not as many as the previous albums. ‘Bad Listener’ is a great song, and perhaps a bit of a middle finger to opinions like mine; elsewhere ‘Used & Abused’ and ‘Enemy’ see some of their heaviest moments, whilst ‘Believe’ feels like a pop-punk song diversion amongst all the formula.
Even though this album and its formula is well trod, I am sure it will find it its way into people’s listening streams, because this will always appeal to someone. And to that someone this may be the most important thing they hear. Just not for this listener – the formula needs something more before the fire completely burns out.
- Greatness or Death
- You Never Know
- Bad Listener
- Used And Abused