Now then. Every once in a while, you find an album where the first track gives you a stupid shit-eating grin because you just know the whole album’s going to kick your ass. Deliverance (Century Media) by Heart Of A Coward is one of those. Writing this review is a bit like trying to make conversation with a devastatingly attractive woman – all I could initially think of to write about each song was “Fucking Brilliant”.
The greatest thing about the djent “genre” is the huge diversity of influences and styles across the different bands. The potential for originality and excellence in such fertile ground is vast – the scene is a passionate community, has already bred a wide cadre of noteworthy bands and boasts its own labels, producers, websites and festivals.
Heart of a Coward are a fairly recent band on the scene, having formed in 2009, and, with the likes of Periphery and Animals as Leaders, are among the second generation of djent acts delivering on the rich promise of the genre. Taking the djent tropes as a given, there’s a plethora of high-grade influences evident in the mix – from Fear Factory crunch to Strapping Young Lad noisescapes through Lamb of God grooves and Killswitch Engage energy with Deftones breaks and Soilwork shout-a-longs. The real achievement of all this, however, is the fact that it’s realised without sounding fragmented or derivative. The different elements all coalesce into a cohesive sound that’s original, distinctive and incredibly full-on.
This is the Milton Keynes noisemongers’ third album, and it’s an absolute pearler. It’s different in tone to their last outing – Severance (Century Media) – darker, fewer atmospherics, more aggressive and only a dash of clean vocals. This one’s less about the story and drama and more straight-ahead moshbait pitched perfectly to destroy any venue that dares to have them on the bill. We start with ‘Hollow’, which has you wishing for a mosh pit before the first bar is done; a blistering statement of intent that leaves you with absolutely no doubt as to what’s to come, ‘Miscreation’ is up next, and is basically one long beatdown interspersed with soaring screamalong vocals. ‘Turmoil I – Wolves’ is a masterpiece of metalcore chug with shades of Killswitch, following into ‘Turmoil II – The Weak Inherit The Earth’ which sounds like early Chimaira injected with a heavy dose of groove.
‘Anti-Life’ and ‘Grain of Sand’ are triumphs of production, successfully replicating Devin Townsend‘s “Wall of Sound” to crushing effect. Absolutely superb before ‘Mouth Of Madness’ slows things down a touch with a Slipknot-esque opening and a chorus that features the first appearance of clean vocals on the album. ‘Deliverance’ is the most outwardly djent entry on the line-up and the song that most closely resembles their prior work. It would be wrong to call ‘Skeletal I – Mourning Repairs’ a slow song, but it’s an immersive, soulful number that’s up there with Filter or Porcupine Tree for heavy shoegazing. ‘Skeletal II – Arise’ follows straight on as an extended outtro and a melancholy end to the album.
In summary, Deliverance is a stunning piece of work that can only be criticised for coming to an end.
More of this please lads.