Review Summary: If You like hardcore, emo, metal, or pop punk, you might like this.
In today's music scene, many bands are incorporating elements of emo, hardcore, metal, and punk into their music. Sure, many of these bands kind of suck and their method of mixing these genres is sloppy and doesn't flow well. A few overseas bands, though, have managed to make this genre blend work for them, Funeral For a Friend is a good example, but a band that does it slightly better (and with more metal influences) is The Hurt Process. Their sophomore effort, A Heartbeat Behind is a melodic, yet aggressive, melting pot of genres that really has an American new wave metalcore feel to it, even if this album is from none other than the country of Britain.
The Hurt Process is composed of the following members:
Vocals: Dan Lawrence
Guitar/Vocals: Tom Diamond
Guitar: Adam Yeoman
Bass: Duncan McGilvary
Drums: Darren Toms
Now, A Heartbeat Behind is mostly a love it or hate it album, and those who love it do so with a good reason. The main draw here is the metal element of the music. The guitarists have an undeniable talent, they can shred as heard in the song "Anchor", they can employ heavy riffing as well as in the title track "A Heartbeat Behind", and they can also lay out a very melodic lead, which they do in every song. The drummer provides a solid rhythm and has a weird technique of using short, contained bursts of double bass instead of over-using it. The bass does little more than follow the drums, though, which is a pretty standard practice in most albums of this nature. Now, the musical aspect of the album is full of cliches, but the talent of the musicians more than makes up for this head it before instrumentation. Now, another metallic feature with this album is the screaming. I'm not completely sure who handles the screaming, but they sure do have a set of lungs. The screaming can range from a deeper, lower roar to some rather pleasant high pitched screaming, although there is a brief period of some horrible retching screams that can be found in the title track "A Heartbeat Behind", but thankfully there is only one instance of this absolutely horrid vocal mistake. Aside from the screaming, there is also shouting to be found in "You Don't Get Gold for Second Place" that follows the deep screaming.
The punk/pop aspect music is found in the clean vocals. They aren't necessarily whiny, but they have a quality, an essence, if you will, of whininess. They are somewhat hard to digest because of this subtle quality which they possess. This isn't to say that the vocalist doesn’t have talent, though, as he has a rather attractive range which kind of balances out the delivery, but not enough to keep it from becoming annoying and making one wish that the screaming would come back. There are several tracks on this album that are easily skip-able because of their use of clean vocals throughout the entire song. This includes the ballad "A Mind With Two Faces" which does have some pleasant melodies and vocal harmonies, but after about a minute the song becomes unbearable and you are forced to skip the rest. Despite it's rather funny name, "Boogie Nights In Michigan" is another easy-to-skip track, as the clean vocals are terribly cliched and the horrible intro riff is repeated throughout the song, even though there are some redeeming qualities at the end in the form of excellent guitar work. Some proof that this band should really not do ballads can be found yet again in the song "The Night Before the Morning After", this song is such a nightmare that I have never listened to the whole thing, enough said. Now, the clean vocals aren't horrible in every song, "Anchor", "A Heartbeat Behind", and "Reading Into It" feature some very wonderful singing that is perfectly fitting with the rest of the song. The only real hardcore influence you hear might just be the group chants that you hear in "My Scandinavian Ride", though. The alternating screaming and singing work extremely well despite the times of unbearable clean vocals.
The emo influence is pretty much limited to the lyrics. Sure, there are some cliché lyrics; such as you hear in "Anchor", "Forget everything that was said before. Now is the time to begin and piece it all together again", but there are also some very good lyrics to be found, such as "A loud bellowing (a heartbeat behind) A beat behind the rest turn and face what's been postponed" found in "A Heartbeat Behind" and "I'll take to you like blood to the heart" as in "Take To You". The cliché and the unique are pretty much in balance so the lyrical performance is forgivable.
The songs can be split into three categories, and can be recommended as follows. For those of you who like the more metallic songs, listen to "Anchor", "A Heartbeat Behind", "My Scandinavian Ride", "Take To You", "Delicious 53", and "Reading Into It". For those ballad lovers, "A Mind With Two Faces" and "The Night Before The Morning After", and for those post-hardcore fans, "You Don't Get Gold For Second Place" and "Boogie Nights In Michigan". Overall, this album is excellent despite it's cliches and occasional unbearable songs. This is a solid 3.5 and I would recommend it to people who are ok with today's music scene and can digest the contents of the album. Also, the cover art is absolutely stunning, that should win some points regardless of what's inside.