When the title of an album tells a story all on its own (and it’s by a band known for upfront lyricism), you know you’re in for an emotionally moving ride. Melodic hardcore leaders Counterparts protect their respected name with their seventh record, A Eulogy For Those Still Here (Pure Noise Records). As the album title states, each song mourns the loss of someone or something that has yet to pass away or leave. Throughout the record, vocalist Brendan Murphy screams and sings of grief he knows he must prepare himself for.
Written for his sick cat, ‘Whispers Of Your Death’ begins the lamenting with heart-wrenching lyrics like “It’s hard to breathe without you sleeping on my chest, sick and withering from the whispers of your death” along with guitarists Alex Re and Jesse Doreen’s signature somber yet venomous riffs. With each new album, the guitars become more and more distinctive, bringing more leads that are instantly recognizable as the “Counterparts riffing style”.
Additionally, Murphy continues to grow as a vocalist and become more comfortable with his clean vocals, which were first used more prominently on 2019’s Nothing Left To Love. Now with A Eulogy…, his confidence in that department has grown enough to branch out even the heavier tracks in new directions. The title track opens with a soaring melody backed by the classic Counterparts scream, which returns for the towering outro of vocal layers bellowing “Grieving, though you haven’t left my side.”
This is not to say that the band has softened up at all or that the harsh vocals are used any less, though – each song still has its hardcore roots packed in tightly. This is what gives Counterparts their everlasting charm – they are a melodic hardcore band that never strays from either their hardcore or melodic aspects. Unlike many of their peers, they find new ways to evolve without losing their raw, natural sound that makes fans tear up right before throwing themselves into a mosh pit.
A Eulogy… includes a nod to 2013’s The Difference Between Hell And Home with slow-burner ‘Soil II’, the continuation of ‘Soil’. The song develops from distant screams and a melancholic guitar riff to a raging pit-starter in just under two and a half minutes, making for a powerful segue into the final tracks.
While their last record set the bar high for future album closers, ‘A Mass Grave Of Saints’ not only met, but exceeded my expectations. As dynamic as it is heavy, it delivers everything you could ask for from a memorable finale. When Murphy busts in straightaway with another vigorous blend of cleans and screams, it throws on a solid first impression that doesn’t disappoint for the nearly five-minute journey. The chorus alone is enough to call for a marathon of replays, but the soft bridge that gradually escalates into screeching guitars until an abruptly slowed tempo finishes the song is what makes it the perfect conclusion.
For a decade, Counterparts have been a massive influence in melodic hardcore. That status only continues to increase as they consistently put out music that keeps their sound fresh yet familiar. Now seven albums deep, it’s a miracle they’re still finding new ways to polish and expand their material without leaving behind any core elements they began with.
Buy the album here: https://purenoise.merchnow.com/collections/counterparts
9 / 10