Review Summary: A great album that suffers a bit from having tracks that sound a little too much like each other.
Beloved's time was short in the musical world. Their first and only LP was a treat, even if it took several listens for the tracks to really start standing out individually. Every so often I remember thinking, “Didn’t I just hear this?” Weirdly enough; they were all so good that I almost didn’t care. The transitions are very smooth between the melodic and the hardcore, and, sometimes, they were so well done it took me a second to realize they had shifted into the heavier sections or back into the melodic areas. It’s just that several of the songs have similar set-ups with the way the vocals and instruments are done that diminishes the overall experience.
One of the things that bothers me about the album is that the vocals tend to be sectioned off from each other. The screaming is very well done and the cleans are decent enough, but it's just too bad they hardly ever mixed the two by swapping back and forth or overlapping them (except for a few parts of “Death to Traitors”), especially since the vocals are done by two different band members. The singing is always with the more melodic parts and the screaming is (for the most part) always with the heavier parts. Maybe it would have added some variety if they tried singing a line then have a screamed vocal line, or have 3 singing vocal lines and end it with a screamed line , etc. This way there would be some singing in a heavier section or some screaming in a melodic section. It just could have used a little more; I am going to go with the phrase, “vocal diversity.” This is probably why the band got labeled as a “breakdown band.” I was reading up on them a little bit before I got a hold of the album, and I saw some form or another of this sentence fairly often: “I am not typically a fan of bands that use a lot of breakdowns, but Beloved pulls it off quite nicely.” That, they do.
There are a few times when the melodic and hardcore parts are mixed in together with the instrumentation, except the fact that they are all done almost exactly the same. “Watching the Lines Blur”, "Rise and Fall", “Inner Pattern” are good examples, having the rhythm guitar hitting the heavy, repeated palm muted riff, while the lead guitar plays a more melodic, distorted riff that rings out over the top of it. I also noticed a lot of the tracks that sound similar seem like they are grouped together. Maybe if the track listing had been changed up a bit, the CD might have sounded like it had more variety. The heavier songs with the most screaming are towards the front of the album, while the tracks with more clean-vocals and less breakdowns are shifted towards the end, except for “Insult to Injury.”
The album really is quite good, if you can get past the “same-old, same-old” feeling that some of the tracks give off. The vocals, guitars and drums all do a fine job, but the bass does seem like it got a little lost in the mix. It’s too bad this was their only full-length release. They might have had something really special going on if they had a chance to make another album or two to figure out what kind of sound they wanted and have some musical growth. Instead, we will just have to settle for looking back fondly on ten tracks of post-hardcore goodness and wonder what could have been.