Review Summary: Haste the Day seem determined to go out in bombastic fashion, on their terms only.
Haste the Day went out on top of the game. Fresh off the release of their stellar concept album Attack of the Wolf King
, it felt like they had finally discovered a sound of their own, a perfect balance of melody and aggression that many could imitate but few could match. And just like that, less than a year later, they were gone. With them went the opportunity to build on something special. And while many were appreciative of the time Haste the Day had and the songs and memories they shared, it was hard not to wonder what could have been.
is what could have been. There is no mincing of words. There is no sappy reintroduction. Coward
strikes hard, and it strikes fast. It takes approximately 3 seconds for the opening riff of “Begin” to melt the skin off your bones and eliminate any fear that the band may have lost their edge in the last five years. It’s established immediately that Haste the Day has arrived, which leads to the next important question; WHICH Haste the Day has arrived?
Well, all of them, really. Essentially every past member of the band is featured on Coward in some way, most notably ex-vocalist Jimmy Ryan. His throaty, shredding screams have not been heard in the context of a Haste the Day song in almost 10 years, and despite the layoff, he destroys everything in his path. While bandmate Stephen Keech features predominantly on this record with his more accessible “core”-ish scream, Ryan absolutely steals the show when given the opportunity. His maniacal howl soaks the relentless “Take” and “Fail” with hardcore influence in the style of Converge, sounding as frantic and urgent as he ever has. Keech’s vocals are equally stunning, most vividly on the title track. He screams lyrics like “DON’T SHOW ME WHO YOU ARE, ‘CAUSE I AM A COWARD” with the same intensity that carried albums like Pressure the Hinges
and Wolf King
takes a little bit from every era of Haste the Day as well. The aforementioned title track sounds like a direct continuation of Wolf King
. “Accept” is pure, unadulterated metalcore fun ripped straight from the mid-2000s (it’s even performed by the band’s formative lineup). “Reconcile” dabbles in post rock as it builds towards a breathtaking conclusion. “Shadow” is the most sinister song Haste the Day have ever written, lurching and slogging forward as Ryan and Keech trade screams. And the riffs. Oh man, the riffs. As melodic as they are abrasive, they’re about as good as it gets in the genre.
In some ways, Coward
feels like the next step forward for the band, and in others, it feels like a look into the past. Listening to any given song, however, there’s no escaping the sense of finality on this record. Instead of disappearing without a trace this time, Haste the Day seem determined to go out in bombastic fashion, on their terms only. And damn, if that doesn’t feel pretty awesome.