Review Summary: A reaffirmation of brilliance.The Difference Between Hell and Home
is my favorite melodic hardcore record of all time; a small nugget of information you might have been able to discern if read my poorly structured review of it back in July 2013. I was 17 at the time and had recently become weaned on heavy music, which helped ensure that TDBH&H
was nothing short of an 800-pound-goliath, assault on the senses for me. Whenever Brendan Murphy's extremely assured vocals would conspire with the serene ‒ and often haunting ‒ guitar leads during the album's biggest choruses ("Compass", "Cursed") or most spine-tingling crescendos ("Wither", "Soil"), the results were often breathtaking. The 2015-follow up Tragedy Will Find Us
sadly didn't resonate with me on the same level, with an enforced emphasis on lyrical prowess rather than the bombastic riffs and booming refrains of yore.
Counterparts' fifth outing, You're Not You Anymore
, beautifully marries the band's earliest work with the wistful, tortured lyricism that has come to define the Canadian hardcore quintet over the years. Tracks like "Bouquet", "Rope" and "Arms Like Teeth" display some of the tightest and most surgically precise song writing the band has ever penned, with the latter track propelling itself forward with arguably the most melodic and musically sound guitar riffs on the album, that build to a stunning climax. YNYA
is merely 28 minutes long ‒ there's no filler and there are no palate cleansers. It's absolutely unrelenting from beginning to end and doles out a steady supply of meteorically heavy breakdowns, memorable lead riffs, frenzied vocal passages and appropriately anthemic choruses. "No Servant of Mine" and "Haunt Me" walk an impressive line between the tried-and-true melodic hardcore leanings of The Current Will Carry Us
while seemingly increasing the intensity thrice fold, with the former track smacking the listener over the head with an absolutely massive chorus and playfully interwoven pinch harmonics.
Breakdowns are also fairly plentiful and hinted at with elongated build-ups, with "Rope" arguably stealing the show during the tail-end of the track. "Hope is a blade that bears my name, // I knew your rope was made for me"
, Brendan emotes furiously before the clash of buzz saw chugs and newcomer Kyle Brownlee's double-bass drum crunch collide for a mosh-worthy explosion. However, it's the melodic moments that imbue the album with substance; "Fragile Limbs" and "A Memory Misread" favors catchy ‒ and to some extent, sung ‒ choruses over typical metal and hardcore riffage. I'm particularly fond of the surprisingly ear-grabbing hook of "A Memory Misread", which reads "I am a farewell that even heaven won't accept // Collecting scars like souvenirs of pasts we can't forget"
. Brendan's brand of 'poetic hardcore' is every bit as impressive here as it has been in the past and is delivered in expectedly brilliant fashion, with raw, crestfallen screams that guide each song forward without hindrance. There isn't a single bad song on YNYA
, which winds up being a reaffirmation of brilliance for a band that has never failed to impress with each consecutive album release. It's a great pastiche to what has come before, while trimming away all of the unnecessary fat for a tight, coherent and utterly focused melodic hardcore record that will dupe you into coming back, and stakes its claim as one of the genre's best offerings this year.
Arms Like Teeth
No Servant of Mine
A Memory Misread
You're Not You Anymore