LABEL: RED BULL RECORDS
RATING: 8 /10
WORDS: SARAH SHODIPE
Beartooth have made a name for themselves as the underdogs of post-hardcore. In the five years since their first official release, they’ve sat in the peripheral vision of the scene but, as time has gone on, have forced more and more people to sit up and take notice of their signature sound. They’re now at a point any other Ohio-based band trying to make it out of there town would dream of, and have given themselves a job to keep it up. Enter ‘Disease’, an album full of moments that feel unique, but are still familiar enough to cement once and for all who Beartooth are.
As the record opens, ‘Greatness or Death’ pulls your intrigue in for its intricate intro that leads with delicate acoustic guitars. It’s not long though – twenty seconds to be exact – before you are reminded that you are listening to a Beartooth album. For all the loud, eerie guitars that the song embraces, the themes of the album hit you right from song one. Of the many things Beartooth have become known for over the years, their discography stands out as a vessel to explore mental health. Now, albums focusing on mental health are, to their credit, appearing more and more frequently these days. But this just begs the question, what makes Disease stand out? Short answer, Caleb Shomo.
“…full of moments that feel unique, but are still familiar enough to cement once and for all who Beartooth are…”
Take ‘Disease’ for example, the title track and one of two lead singles. The track pours out with such a level of honesty and old-school urgency that seems rare these days. The lyrics are full of potent rhetoric as Shomo asks questions that he genuinely doesn’t know the answer to. Couple that with layered vocals and “Oh-Oh-Oh”s all the way through, and they help drive home the impassioned lyrics. Caleb’s talents have always been the driving force of the band’s efforts, and that’s more true than ever here.
Aside from that, there are other commonalities you’ll find through the record. Alongside their, signature, almost formulaic songwriting lies a reliance on melodic tones. At least half the tracklisting comes off as anthemic, bordering on Arena Rock. Not to mention songs like Believe, which feels a bit more pop-rocky, with its “Whoa-Whoa”s and four chord progression. They’re not exactly compromising themselves, but there’s no denying there’s a new level of accessibility bleeding through on the album.
“…full on and tightly paced ….”
Those looking for something to fall into the heavier side of Beartooth’s discography will find solace in ‘Fire’. It’s pulsing beat and epic crescendos were clearly made for inciting circle pits. But if it’s familiarity you’re looking for, then Disease is an album that delivers that in spades, with riffs that have become a staple in Beartooth songwriting style showing up for songs like ‘Manipulation’ or ‘You Never Know’. Then there’s the lyrics that, while maybe being a little on the nose and uninspired, still manage to have the desired effect of hitting hard. One of the opening lines on ‘Bad Listener’ is “I’ll never get a real shot, I’ll be bangin’ my head till my brain rots”. Say what you will about it’s simplicity, that is a powerful lyric.
‘Disease’ is Beartooth’s third album in four years. So you’ll forgive them if some of these songs sound familiar. But make no mistake, the record is just as full on and tightly paced as any other Beartooth release. Its appeal is in the intricacy of its production and the personal lyrics that convey Shomo’s complex mind to all who will listen. But more than that, every song has a story to tell. Whether it’s self-doubt, or figuring yourself out or just the struggles of being human. Critics and comments alike will sound off saying that Beartooth haven’t really done anything new or evolved their sound on this album. But it almost doesn’t matter. This album undoubtedly solidifies Beartooth as a modern metal force to be reckoned with.