Review Summary: Returning to the roots, and growing a tree.
If you're as much of a fan of the hardcore punk/metalcore genre as I am, the name No Bragging Rights
probably rings a few bells. When I first discovered this band, I knew they had the potential to churn out such an excellent album like Cycles has proved to be. Obviously Mike Perez has some above average vocal work, which seems to be the main highlight. His singing is just as astounding, if not more so, than his screams. His clean vocals actually seem very reminiscent to Bury Tomorrow
's Jason Cameron, which is quite a plus. The previously released full-lengths The Consequences of Dreams and Illuminator were good, but they were still searching for a steadier sound that would set them apart from sounding eerily similar to their counterparts (speaking of Counterparts
, Brenden Murphy helps to create what is probably the best track on the album). This being said, Cycles is an excellent return to form, and the best release from them thus far.
When I realized that No Bragging Rights was set to release another album two years later after Illuminator, I was curious as to how or if the sound had matured at all from the aforementioned release. I anxiously awaited the October 16th release date, and decided to give it an objective listen. The opening track "The Advent of Change" begins with a mellow guitar strum, and progresses into the familiar melodic hardcore sound that No Bragging Rights is known for. Lyrically, Cycles seems to revolve around negative situations throughout our daily lives, and through hope these situations will someday improve. Here's an excerpt from the second track "Hope Theory" that helps to prove it:
"Never look back,
Never lose hope,
I will never look back,
I will never lose… never lose hope.
I believe things can change,
I believe that brighter days… are coming."
Overall, the musicianship on each track seems to flow rather smoothly, and not surprisingly, there isn't a dull moment on this album (what most people refer to as "filler"). The guitar work is incredibly dynamic, changing from chugs to interesting riffs to further solidify this album as their most accomplished effort to date. What's even more enjoyable is the fact that there are a total of four guest vocalists on Cycles, and each of them lend their vocals quite nicely and in their own unique way. This is obviously an entire band effort, sometimes even employing group shouts to reinforce the passionate lyrics that truly seem heartfelt. What I love most about this album is how natural it seems, it's each member of the band playing to their full potential. Now, is this album flawless" Yes and no, lyrically, it sticks to the standard that most bands included within this genre follow, meaning most of the lyrics carry the same theme of overcoming negativity and other generally positive themes. Not that this is necessarily a fault, especially since No Bragging Rights really pulls it together. Musically, I believe it goes above and beyond the hardcore punk/metalcore standard. Every member of this band can be heard on this album without much of a problem; the production quality is simply superb. It's not an overproduced sound in the least bit, the vocals are raw enough to convince an unwary listener that this is an underground band. Even the bass playing adds a backbone to the prominent guitar riffs and chugs that are littered throughout the album, forcing it to sound amplified and crisp. I'm expecting this band to improve even further, and will definitely be keeping my eyes and ears open for any upcoming news on No Bragging Rights in the future. Simply put, if you're searching for a modern memorable melodic hardcore/metalcore album that will satisfy your cravings, venture no further than Cycles.
"Appraisals and Omissions"
"Fight for My Life"
"The Advent of Change"