Review Summary: The August Burns Red of post-hardcore
I know that Beloved pre-dates August Burns Red by about 2 years, but they really are Beloved's closest contemporaries. The comparisons between the two run deep, from songwriting style to lyrical content. But, despite all of these similarities, Beloved manages to master the melodic passage-breakdown technique equally as well if not better than August Burns Red.
The song structure stays fairly consistent throughout the album, shifting from slower, melodic passages to crushing breakdowns. While this may seem somewhat generic, Beloved truly master the technique. While the melodic passages are certainly unique and interesting, it is the breakdowns that truly show Beloved's chops. Each breakdown is as heavy as the next, seemingly crushing your very soul. It is very hard to resist headbanging along with the music, as the breakdowns are just that amazing. Going back to the melodic sections; they are quite interesting, almost airy in a sense, which just makes the breakdowns even more powerful. It is worth it to check out this album for the breakdowns alone, but the instrumentation and lyrical content is also relatively impressive.
The instrumentation, while not as technical as August Burns Red, is still very good. The bass is just barely audible, and even when you can hear it, it isn't technically astounding. It nonetheless does its job adequately and provides a good backdrop to the guitars. Speaking of the guitars, you won't find the technical shredding found on an August Burns Red album here. Instead, they help to create a very relaxed atmosphere in the softer, more melodic parts, while contributing to the extreme heaviness of the breakdowns. The vocals are also very impressive. Guitarist Josh Moore provides the clean vocals of the album, and, while not whiny or annoying in any sense, doesn't particularly stand out. He simply does his job, much like the bass. The screams are fantastic. They have an incredible impact on the music, much like John Henry's vocals do for Darkest Hour. When Musten's screams hit you for the first time, it's like getting puched in the chest and being sent through an brick wall. All of the instrumentation on the album is seemingly directly focused at making the breakdowns as ridiculously heavy as possible, which makes their impact all the more forceful.
Lyrically Beloved is fairly good. Yes, they are a Christian band (August Burns Red similarities abound), but they don't bash you over the head with their views. Instead they provide an amalgamated view of (for the most part) all religions, combining the ideals of each one, instead of Christianity specifically. This allows the lyrics to become quite uplifting, especially those at the end of "Insult To Injury", instead of overly religious, preachy lyrics. The listener can easily connect with the lyrics found on the album, instead of having to go through repeated listens to even guess at what the lyrics may mean.
All in all, this is a must-have for all post-hardcore fans; and one that has been overlooked for far too long. There are very few flaws on this album, except for maybe the bass and clean vocals and slightly generic songwriting, but those can be easily ignored and the majority of their music can be thoroughly enjoyed throughout the album.