Review Summary: "Please forget me and I'll forget us / Can we forget the way we were?"
Departures - When Losing Everything Is Everything You Wanted
In this day and age, showing even a hint of potential in one’s music can be sickening. Maybe we’ve been bred to expect failure, but there’s always that small itch in the back of your mind just waiting for the toilet to flush, along with all the potential of the band you were keeping an eye on. Because of this, we go into our musical experiences thirsting for something amazing, something out of the ordinary that makes us look down at the play counter and realize "Oh, shi
t. I’ve already played through this twice!" Within the realms of hardcore, this catharsis is few and far between. It could be the relative safety of the creation of this style of music, or it could just be from the descendants of pioneers who had infamously declared their lack of musical ability. Whatever the reason is, nearly everything coming out of the hardcore genre falls within the category of underdeveloped shi
t or just above par.
Yet every once in a while there’s a certain group of individuals who take a big ladle and stir the pot once again, creating a buzz and energy within the genre felt all throughout the community. In the past decade, bands like Verse, Modern Life is War and Defeater have done just that: releasing critically praised albums that took the community off guard and changed the game up even when there wasn’t originally a game to be changed. In recent years, all eyes have been fixated on that little island across the pond which has been churching out excellent releases in the genre. Carry more emotional depth and merging it with an established modern hardcore sound, acts like Dead Swans, Kerouac, and More Than Life have been spring boarded up into the forefront of this generation: in a sense, giving a clear definition to British hardcore. Hardcore band Departures is a group that hasn’t necessarily been front and center of the action but has slowly started to make a name for themselves. Debut EP Escaping
turned very few heads, but those who did hear became fascinated at the potential and talent of these young men from Scotland. Since then, that same feeling of dread has loomed as Departures prepare to ready to release their debut album, “Will it suck?”, “Are they going to end up flushing whatever potential they had down the drain?” are just some of the questions that fans ask themselves. Well now the wait is over and we are given debut album When Losing Everything Is Everything You Wanted
, and it sees a band not simply capitalizing on potential but becoming a hidden diamond in the rough for those who find it.
Simply put, When Losing Everything…
is exactly what Escaping
promised it would be and then some. From a straight forward sonic assault to toned-down clean passages, Departures debut album pulls out all the stops and exemplifies all the aspects of modern hardcore that make it such a pleasure to be a part of. Picking up almost exactly where Escaping
left off, with a clean acoustic strum pattern, opening instrumental track ‘Fear of Falling’ sets the tone of the entire album with clean guitar work before flourishing into a simple, yet entirely memorable riff before bursting into ‘Swallowed Up’. It’s at this track that the true realized potential Departures has always shown fully rears its head. In a little over a year since their debut EP to their full length, Departures has grown and matured in leaps and bounds. A much more powerful and guttural front man comes bursting into the fray over a more confident sounding band. Chord-heavy, with intermittent breakdowns dashed all throughout, acts like Defeater, The Carrier and The Hope Conspiracy can easily be referenced as inspirations to the overall sound of When Losing Everything…
Departures debut album also featuring two of the four tracks of Escaping
. Coming back into the sonic assault, tracks ‘Disappointment’ and ‘The View From Below’ are reworked and sound exponentially better than the first initial listens. An aspect that makes When Losing Everything…
all the more exciting is the fact that the aforementioned tracks are arguable the heaviest sounding tracks of the entire album. Tracks ‘A Life In Pieces’ and ‘The Last Drive’ are the best examples of the overall sound of the album, soft, sedated and much more brooding and thought out than your typical modern hardcore act. While going as far as referencing Modern Life is War’s Witness
might be stretching the limits of fairness, it can’t be denied that there's an eerie sense of nostalgia felt from these tracks.
This is not to say that When Losing Everything…
is without fault, however small. Given the fact that Departures calls the UK home and its relative size, it's not a stretch of the imagination that there are copious amounts of sonic similarities from other bands felt all throughout the album. The main one that comes to mind is sister act More Than Life. While not anywhere near close enough to be declared interchangeable, it’s hard to deny that both Departures and More Than Life can boast two very similar sounds. Another problem that manifests itself on the album is the sonic similarity to Boston hardcore act Defeater. Tracks like ‘Sunday’ and ‘Remembrance’ actually step over the line of mere inspiration and cross into the dangers of ripping off. While the album itself was mastered by Defeater guitarist Jay Maas, which does a good job of concealing the flaw, it still winds up sticking out like a sore thumb on occasions.
Though as unprofessional as this might sound, the ultimate answer to these flaws is a huge “So what?” Departures is a very young, up and coming band and being such tends to overshadow nearly all the faults of When Losing Everything…
to the equivalent of background noise of the naysayers. It’s on the beauties to be found in the album: the feeling of no pretense. Generally speaking, Departures have no heavy expectations laid upon them like some other, better established bands and it’s this lack of hype and underrated feeling that makes When Losing Everything…
all the more better. The goals that Departures and their fans have laid upon them have come to fruition and have shattered all expectations with an album that sees potentially fully realized while still hopeful for the future of the band.