Review Summary: Give it a listen, you might be surprised.
And just when you thought The Ghost Inside were the answer to modern metalcore. When you hear about another band that plays music under the ‘metal/hardcore’ genre we immediately think one of two things, one: ‘next’ or two: ‘Converge or get the f*ck out’. That is not to say that bands like Misery Signals are not without talent, but it just goes to show the general hostility that music goers have towards the genre. When this reviewer heard of Ontario hardcore/metal band Counterparts it was immediately written off and judged before even one listen. Adjectives like ‘subpar’ and ‘mediocre’ were among some of the descriptions labeled onto this band. After a handful of days and nothing better to do, it was decided to prove the point and finally give a listen to this band and needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised… very surprised, actually.
An element that most metalcore bands lack these days can be summed up into one word, and that word would be confidence. Without confidence nearly all bands fall into obscurity, become mediocre and generally stagnate. Counterparts do not suffer from that, in fact they are more than confident in their sing/songwriting ability. Not afraid to experiment and do what most bands simply will not or can not do, Counterparts constantly shift from in-your-face hardcore, to dissonance influenced riffs, to ultra clean guitar fills. Counterparts have definitely put a lot of time and effort into the making of each of these songs; none of them are your basic mindless breakdown fest or generic riffage.
The greatest comparison that Counterparts is going to get is from Misery Signals, particularly Magnum Heart-era Misery Signals. It is true, that Counterparts borrow heavily from Misery Signals and it acts a great boost but they also wind up shooting themselves in the foot because of it. Counterparts’ vocalist, Brendan Murphy, is nearly a copy/paste rendition of ex-Misery Signals vocalist Jesses Zaraska. While this is definitely a plus for those who appreciate the genre, it does little to make Counterparts different and unique. Just going through the entire album, you will find yourself saying ‘I swear, I’ve heard that riff/breakdown/bridge before’ and chances are is that you probably have. Massive props are given to Counterparts for creating an interesting listen that harkens back to the better times of metalcore, but unfortunately it has all been done before.
But while they hold true to the style and soul of Misery Signals, Counterparts still attempts to distinguish themselves from others. Unfortunately this is where they tend to struggle again. Prophets itself lacks substance that bands such as The Ghost Inside have, too many times do Counterparts revert back to the ‘chug-jun-whee’ pattern breakdowns and it constantly plagues their debut album. While The Ghost Inside have found a fairly good niche from dissonant riffs to tough-guy, in-your-face breakdowns, Counterparts still haven’t yet found their equilibrium when it comes to a healthy balance to breakdowns. That brings this to the next parts that Counterparts seem to make an attempt at but fail at, and that being their use of clean vocals. Granted, some bands can pull it off nicely (a shoutout to you, Calico System), but Counterparts have absolutely failed at it. Guitarist/vocalist, Alex Re, should definitely keep to solely playing guitar, because he is certainly not helping the band by his The Devil Wears Prada-esque vocal technique. Mercifully these are only felt on a minimal three tracks and are only done sparingly, so hopefully Counterparts will not duplicate or expand upon them in the future.
After listening to this album, I was pleasantly surprised. Counterparts, while far from perfect, show a lot of promise that, if expanded upon correctly, can make them one of the most respected bands in the genre. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement and some aspects to Prophets that can just go away altogether, still is still highly recommended for those who appreciate the genre. The Ghost Inside are going to have to step up their game if they hope to compete with Counterparts, because they undoubtedly have the ability to become the next Misery Signals. This could just be wishful thinking, so for those who are skeptical give this album a listen and while you might not hear anything truly groundbreaking, you might be very surprised at what you hear through your speakers.