Review Summary: A pleasant surprise.
Tear Out The Heart is a five piece metalcore band from St. Louis, MO signed to Victory Records. At first glance, everything about this band screams generic and unoriginal, ripped/torn jeans, dyed black hair, colorful album art. That observation isn't far wrong. Tear Out The Heart have created a release that includes all the clichés such as breakdowns in abundance, clean choruses, and angry simple lyrics. In many ways "Violence" comes off as a fusion of scene leaders Asking Alexandria and Motionless In White, the latter being a comparison due to the horror imagery/lyric themes and even some dark electronics and synths. By now anyone not into this type of music is probably running for the hills, but here's the catch. It kind of works.
Tear Out The Heart manage to make these parts fit together pretty well and everything is relatively enjoyable provided you enjoy at least something within the genre. The band uses an extremely basic form of structure, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown etc. but the album is short enough that the predictability isn't so much of a problem. The first two thirds of the album lack great diversity until tracks 9 and 11. Track 9, "Closure", is the biggest change with soft guitars and a slower pace under slightly faint screams, all to build up into a melodic explosion later in the song. Track 11, "Darker Tides", is still pretty standard fare but begins with a nice melodic lead over the guitar riffs that make it memorable. The rest of the songs follow the aforementioned patterns. Lead single "Infamous Last Words" adequately presents what the band is about with one of the catchier choruses. Some filler is in evidence, namely tracks 8 and 10. Two guest vocalist make appearances on the album as well to provide a little diversity to the vocal performance. Caleb Shomo (of Attack Attack fame) provides his scream to "Undead Anthem", and Dan Marsala (of Story Of The Year) on "Coffin Eyes".
The band itself, in the instrumental department, doesn't do a whole lot besides make a background for the vocals. The drums are powerful but run of the mill, bass is audible but does little of interest, and the guitar, despite a couple of riffs and melodic leads, pretty much just chugs away in passable patterns. The vocals are of more interest. Lead vocalist Tyler Konersman provides surprisingly powerful high screams and some solid lows as well. Occasionally he falls back on some questionable techniques used in the genre but manages to do them well. The strained scream buildup in "Dead By Dawn" is in the vein of Austin Carlile but Tyler comes off better than some, and the spoken word into scream intro of "Violence" would be terrible if it weren't for the power of his scream. Bassist Isaac Etter contributes some clean vocals to the album as well, taking over for every chorus of the album. His cleans are a marked contrast to Tyler's screams, but sort of like The Amity Affliction it works in their favor. His voice goes from mid to high ranges and there doesn't seem to be any hint of autotune to it. Lyrically this band is nothing to write home about. Despite some horror movie esque titles, the lyrics devolve to a lot of "I"s and "We"s and a whole hell of a lot of swearing and anger. A few decent one liners pop in and the choruses sport some of the more passable lines.
Overall "Violence" is a very pleasant surprise coming from a band that tries very hard to look bad at first glance. If you remotely enjoy any of my recommendations or metalcore bands in general, you might find something to like here.