Review Summary: Unoriginal, heavy, fun metalcore.
Let's get the obvious facts out of the way. Severance is completely unoriginal. It's all stuff we've heard before from other metalcore bands, and doesn't bring much new to the table. If you throw that aside and listen to it simply as a fun album to headbang along to, then Severance becomes quite a good album. That's the thing, some albums simply aren't meant to be listened to based on their technicality or originality, they're meant to be listened to based on the fact that they are, at face value, just heavy, angry music.
Heart Of a Coward was one of the three bands that spawned from the disbanded Fellsilent, the other two being Monuments and Tesseract. Whilst Monuments focuses on the technical riffs seen in Fellsilent, whereas Tesseract focuses more on the ambient, melodic side of that band's sound, Heart Of a Coward focuses more on a straightforward metalcore sound. Make no mistake, they can still write some good riffs, which is made apparent in the opening track "Monstro", which easily has the best riffs on the entire album. If there's one thing this album isn't short of, it's groove. This album is groove-laden with riffs all over it; this is an album which the pit lords will love to the moon and back again.
On HOAC's previous album, Hope and Hindrance, guitarist Timfy James (Now in Hacktivist) also provided some clean vocals here and there. However, he left the band after that album was released, and as a result, lead vocalist Jamie Graham handles both the harsh and clean vocals on this album, both of which he is very good at. His best vocal performance is on "Distance", which showcase both sides of his vocal range very well. There are also a few guest vocalist appearances here and there: "Psychophant" features Bleed From Within vocalist Scott Kennedy, and "Distance" has a guest appearance of Justin Hill from Sikth. Vocally, this album definitely exceeds Hope and Hindrance.
However, whilst the album is definitely fun to listen to, and the vocals are excellent, it's hard to ignore the obvious flaws. Unoriginality is the first problem, but the production on this album is certainly an issue as well. The guitars sound very muggy (not helped by the fact they're tuned so low), the bassist may as well not be there (there's a bassline at the start of "Psychophant" which is completely inaudible) and at times it is very hard to listen to as a result. Breakdowns are to be expected in an album like this, but it simply adds to the unoriginality and the fact that this is simply another metalcore band that follows the bandwagon. Some of the songs on here are also a tad lacklustre; "Mirrors", one of the more groove-laden songs on the album, is almost ruined by the inclusion of around a minute of breakdowns, but is thankfully redeemed (partially) by a memorable chorus. "Deadweight" is probably the weakest song on the album, and doesn't help with the stereotype that all metalcore bands simply palm mute open strings throughout nearly an entire song. The lyrics on this album are at times hilariously bad, which is a huge shame given how good the vocals are.
In short, there are two ways you can look at this album. Either as a generic, boring, muggy mess with bland lyrics that follows the metalcore trend, or as an album which is simple, heavy fun which shouldn't be taken too seriously. Fans of this band will of course be pleased with this album, as will many fans of metalcore, deathcore and djent. Overall, if you're looking for technicality, you should probably look elsewhere. However, if you're a fan of groove-laden riffs and want a decent album which is fun to jam to, then grab this album.