Review Summary: No longer the "prophets" that they once claimed to be...
Let’s go back to 2011 for a bit. Coming off the success of their debut LP, Counterparts announced that they had signed to Victory Records and were set to record a second full length with Defeater’s Jay Maas at Getaway Recording Studios. Fans trembled with anticipation, despite apprehensions about Victory’s reputation as a label. The big question was, “How could Counterparts possibly top a debut album as immense as Prophets
"” Unfortunately, the release of The Current Will Carry Us
left that question unanswered.
, Counterparts seemed to have really nailed down hardcore-tinged metalcore as well as one could hope. Melody, a wide variety of lyrical content, meaty vocals, and perfectly executed breakdowns made for an unforgettable debut bringing bands such as Saints Never Surrender and Misery Signals to mind. On The Current Will Carry Us
, the band seems to have tried to change too much, too quickly. Reduction in the number of breakdowns and a move toward the melodic hardcore sound hinted at on their split with Exalt may seem like a good move on paper, but in actuality, Counterparts threw a lot of their appeal out the window. Don’t be too alarmed, as there is still plenty of melody on the album and the musicianship and vocals are as strong as ever; something
just seems to be lacking.
The album’s first track, “The Disconnect,” is a good example of what the album succeeds at: creating very solid melodic hardcore. Brendon Murphy’s vocals are as vicious and catchy as ever, and Maas’ powerful production suits the band perfectly. Venture several tracks in, however, and the album’s monotony is revealed. With each track it becomes harder to stay attentive as Counterparts bombard the listener with a somewhat homogenous collection of songs.
Luckily, there are some gems within the otherwise par-for-the-course album that display the band’s true capabilities as musicians and songwriters. “Jumping Ship,” for example, accentuates Counterparts’ ability to write truly interesting music as the technical guitar parts range from punishing to melodic and demonstrate that the creativity is
there, though not evident on every track. “Pedestal” is another highlight of the album, featuring an ambient section (similar to the ending of “The Sanctuary” off Prophets
) driven by drums and bass over which Murphy screams ”All of my heroes have failed me.”
Lyrically, The Current Will Carry Us
is a bit of a mess. Individual songs present interesting ideas; “The Disconnect” is about shedding negative preconceptions about the world we live in, and “The Constant” reminds listeners that there is no single correct way to live life. Ultimately, however, the album’s lyrics are contradictory and unfocused. At times it seems that Murphy has the world in the palm of his hand, but then the next track suggests that he is as helpless as the very same people he condemns in tracks like “The Disconnect” or “Jumping Ship.” Ultimately, his wavering lyrical themes compromise the authenticity of their deeply personal content.
The Current Will Carry Us
may not have lived up to the ever-high expectations left behind from Counterparts previous work, but moments certainly hint that they are capable of progressing. While fans may never see the return to the lovable sound on Prophets
, it is wholly possible that the band’s sound will evolve into something great once they find their niche. Despite obvious flaws, excellent and innovative (at times) musicianship make TCWCU a worthwhile listen, while leaving plenty of room for improvement on future releases.