I was a bit iffy on Beartooth’s debut album Disgusting (2014). On the one hand the metalcore meets pop-punk approach worked, but the production was too polished and syrupy. When vocalist Caleb Shomo (formerly of Attack Attack!) would deliver one of his big, layered, soaring choruses I often winced at how overdone it seemed. But it was crazy popular. The videos from that that album each have over three million views, with the track “In Between” (the sugar-iest one of all) topping out near four million.
That’s why I was really surprised when I heard the title track/first single from their just-released second album Aggressive. The blend of styles come together more like a nineties punk band, and Shomo’s clean vocals are mid-range with a more natural sound. Sonically the rest of album follows suit. The punk and hardcore elements are pushed to the front, with riff styles that give nods to classic rock and Swedish death metal. Shomo’s formerly-saccharine choruses now have a warm in-the-room resonance. The song styles are also surprisingly diverse. With a writing assist from ex-Goldfinger frontman and mega producer John Feldmann, they range from hardcore (“Burnout”), to alt rock (“Hated”), to pop-punk (“However You Want It Said”).
Beartooth are a strange entity in loud music. They tour with metalcore bands like Of Mice and Men, but also with bands like Slipknot and Suicidal Tendencies. While they may piss off the average headbanger, they have an appeal to an audience who dip their toes in different pools. Perhaps Behemoth is too heavy for them, but maybe Green Day is too soft. Regardless of those who may bemoan their presence, Aggressive is a well-written and sharply-produced album, and a definite step forward for Beartooth.
The band have upcoming tour dates in Europe, Australia, and Japan, as well as a number of festival dates including an appearance at Heavy Montreal on August 7th. Aggressive is available now and you can watch the video for the title track here.
Written for A Journal of Musical Things
Zombitrol Productions is a proud co-presenter of the Toronto stop of John Baizley’s A Perfect Monster Pop-Up Art Show and Sale this Tuesday May 3rd. With his band Baroness set to hit the stage at The Opera House that evening, John will be appearing at Coalition (282 Augusta Ave.) from 5-6:30PM, where he will have art prints and fuzz-peddles for sale. This is an All Ages event, admission is free, and the bar will be open. We hope to see you there before the show.
Top Five Comics
5. Hellboy In Hell
Mike Mignola returns to writing and drawing his signature title and creates a world that’s somehow more metaphysical than ever. Plus, he still manages to find room for Hellboy to punch things.
On the verge of defeat the Nazis crack the super-soldier formula. One brave British double-agent manages to retrieve the formula for the Allies, and World War II continues thanks to a super-human arms race. Bonkers revisionist history.
For the record this is my favourite ongoing series. Yeah The Walking Dead is good, but this is Robert Kirkman’s lead book as far as I’m concerned. It continues to break and rebuild the image of the superhero over and over again.
2. Batman: Endgame
I’m a big fan of the Scott Snyder / Greg Capullo Batman stories arcs, but this is the first one that can be mentioned in the same breath as The Long Halloween and The Dark Knight Returns. Savage and beautiful.
Much like how everything in Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a literary reference, everything in his new series Providence is a reference to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Full of creeping dread like a knife slowing being dragged across flesh, it succeeds on all levels.
Other Mentionables: Crossed+100, Descender, Harley Quinn, Sandman: Overture, We Stand On Guard, Saga
Top Five Albums
5. Christian Mistress - To Your Death
As far as modern bands go, no one embodies the spirit of classic metal and hard rock more than Christian Mistress. Their latest album pulses with a heavy groove and a smirking morbidity that hasn’t been seen since the seventies. Have a listen to my interview with vocalist Christine Davis.
4. Bones - Banshee / HermitofEastGrandRiver
This guy has put out six releases this year alone ranging in length from twelve minutes to nearly an hour. These two are my favourites from bunch. Space-age rap and R&B with crazy samples ranging from Tori Amos to Burzum. All his stuff is free.
3. Enslaved - In Times
People have labeled Enslaved as the black metal version of Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Tool for years. This six track album makes it officially true. The best way to learn more is to watch my recent interview with the band.
2. Jess and the Ancient Ones - Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes
The psychedelic hard rock revival is in full swing. As far as trends go I’m not gonna start complaining. On their second full-length release JatAO take all their past offerings and combine them into one. From occult metal to surf rock, it’s covered. Listen to the whole album.
1. Grave Pleasures - Dreamcrash
The band formerly known as Beastmilk loses and adds a few members and opts for perhaps a more universally palatable name before dropping this perfect gothic post-punk tribute to Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, and The Misfits. Watch the video for “New Hip Moon.”
Other Mentionables: Jazz Cartier - Marauding in Paradise (Interview), Ghost - Meliora, Fuck The Facts - Desire Will Rot (come to the show), Dir En Grey - Arche (Interview), Lindemann - Skills In Pills, Lucifer - Lucifer I (Interview), Royal Thunder - Crooked Doors, Shining - International Blackjazz Society, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz - S/T
Poster by Jen Pilles
Zombitrol Productions presents the Toronto return of Fuck The Facts promoting their latest album Desire Will Rot. Through numerous releases and hard gigging the Ottawa band has become one of the most respected Canadian acts in the international metal underground, with notable performances at Maryland Deathfest and Obscene Extreme Montreal. They were also nominated for a Juno in 2012 and were featured on the cover of Exclaim! magazine in 2008. Desire Will Rot is their first self-released full length album since their highly successful stint on Relapse Records.
With special guests:
Flying Fortress (Pembroke) - This bass/drum duo is made of up to two thirds of cult favourites Goat Horn and play a sound that’s self-described as “crusty thrash rock.” They’ve just released their second full length album Dirty Rain.
Völur (Toronto) - One of the city’s fastest rising bands, this trio plays a unique combination of folk music and doom metal featuring violin and upright bass. The band also shares a member with occult hard rock superstars Blood Ceremony. Their latest full length album is 2014’s Disir.
Opening the show will be Toronto one-man harsh noise/grind project Goth Girl.
Friday, Januray 15 at 9:00pm
Coalition: 282 Augusta Ave, Toronto