Album Review: Beartooth ‘Aggressive’
US metalcore titans Beartooth have unleashed their sophomore effort ‘Aggressive’. A little over two years after their debut album ‘Disgusting’, ‘Aggressive‘ sees the band turning things up to 11, delivering some face-melting riffs and punishing breakdowns upon unsuspecting fans and newcomers. ‘Aggressive’ is much heavier than Beartooth’s earlier work, with the band cranking up the distortion while managing to retain the catchiness and pop-friendly choruses that typified their previous releases.
Opening with the title track, Aggressive sets the tone for the rest of the album with ominous build ups followed by a killer breakdown, inviting listeners to jump into the pit and start two-stepping like mad. Hated continues in this vein but with more of a straight hardcore influence in comparison to the metalcore riffage heard before.
“However You Want It Said shows Beartooth display great versatility, proving they aren’t quite as one-note as you might think on first listen.”
In comparison to the band’s earlier recordings, which saw lead singer Caleb Shomo engage in the sort of vocal histrionics reminiscent of his Warped Tour contemporaries, Hated sees Shomo attempt a relatively straightforward singalong chorus. It works quite well and should have you pumping your fist in the air within seconds.
Fair Weather Friend is a definite standout and one of the best tracks on the album. While the general formula is relatively unchanged for the song, the addition of the twinkling interlude and the angular riff in the intro change things up a bit, sounding akin to the warped lovechild of Avenged Sevenfold and Issues. Despite that rather awkward comparison, it works quite well and cements the overall sound of ‘Aggressive’.
However You Want It Said is the most pop-friendly track on the album, 0pening with a chorus of “Woah-oh-oh’s” before segueing into one of the best headbanging moments on the album. The song also features the best breakdown on the album. It’s the sort of track that wouldn’t sound out of place screamed to a group of die-hards in a basement venue or performed to thousands of fans in an arena. However You Want It Said shows Beartooth display great versatility, proving they aren’t quite as one-note as you might think on first listen.
Always Dead is one for the brutal kids. Opening with a D-Beat and then launching into a mosh riff, it’s an anthemic piece of metalcore sure to appease the most cynical mosh warriors. A well-timed riffing followed by perfectly shouts of “DEAD!” seem as if they were perfectly designed to execute the best wall of death imaginable.
“With their sophomore effort, Beartooth have crafted an album that both metalcore junkies and radio-loving teens can equally enjoy…”
The only real misstep on ‘Aggressive’ would be Rock Is Dead, a post-grunge pisstake which sounds like one of the forgettable filler tracks on the ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4’ soundtrack. Thankfully it’s placed near the bottom of the album’s track listing so it doesn’t stick around much to leave much of an impact. Shomo’s line of “If rock ‘n’ roll’s dead you can kill me right now” sounds like something Gene Simmons would say after a couple of beers with Dave Grohl…
King Of Anything ends the album on a rather eerie and sinister tone. The endlessly looping guitar riff sounds near-lawsuit-levels of similar to Marilyn Manson’s Sweet Dreams, but it works well in context. As the shortest track on the album it doesn’t necessarily leave a huge mark, but it does its job well and ends the album on a relatively satisfying conclusion.
‘Aggressive’ sees Beartooth manage to find the sweet middle ground between heaviness and accessibility. The band’s mixture chugging riffs interspersed with soaring choruses works quite well, and Shomo alternates between arena-rock choruses and hardcore barks with the ease of a seasoned professional. With their sophomore effort, Beartooth have crafted an album that both metalcore junkies and radio-loving teens can equally enjoy, and for that you really have to hand it to them!