I remember the great commercial Metalcore boom of the mid-aughts like it was yesterday. I was in the twilight years of high school, about 30 pounds lighter and with no useful insight into how to drive a car or pleasure a woman. I had it all figured out. You may not believe it, but I am wearing an As I Lay Dying tee as I type this. Heart of a Coward‘s The Disconnect (Arising Empire) takes me back to many an evening in 2004 hanging with the homies.
The layered vocals, palm-muted guitars and occasional emphasis swearing are all present here like they were on many an LP from Century Media and Metal Blade in 2005, but it’s not paying off like it used to. It’s hard to stand out in a field that became very, if not too crowded thirteen years ago, let alone in 2019. The brand of metalcore that Heart of a Coward is slinging here is playing it way too conservative to leave a lasting scar. Numbers like ‘Drown in Ruin’ and ‘Senseless’ are either stuck knee-deep in conventional verse-chorus structure or too helplessly mid-tempo to get the blood going.
And I am becoming a broken record on this subject, but we need, like really fucking need to stop mixing vocals so high in metal. There’s no need for Kaan Tasan’s verses to completely put the guitars in the back seat on ‘In the Wake.’
There was a time when everyone and their sister wanted to ride that metalcore wave all the way to a prized Ozzfest second stage slot or possibly major label consideration. But just because it was the popular girl in school didn’t mean it was an easy genre to figure out. There’s a reason why Killswitch Engage‘s dedication to melody and songcraft or Every Time I Die‘s riff madness keeps them relevant in an era when subgenres come and go.
6 / 10