JOWLS: Cursed E.P.: 10″

Cursed cover art

This band from Grand Rapids, MI takes elements of screamo, punk, and post hardcore and mixes it up on this E.P.

The vocals are close to screamo with their throat shredding howls, but at times it veers out of it and gets a bit more hardcore sounding. The guitars are blistering with the leads jumping out at you, the bass hitting nice and heavy and the pummeling of the drums just add to the devastation that this band produces in just over fifteen minutes. Every song has power, emotion and energy that will captivate your ears and draw you into their world of anger and pain. Add into this the excellent songwriting with the superb playing and you have a mighty fine E.P.

These guys are going to be huge if the get the right breaks if these songs are any indication of their talent. Their drive and ambition alone should have them conquering stages wherever they go.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS: Two-Faced Charade: CD

The debut full-length album by Petoskey, Michigan’s FAMOUS LAST WORDS is a hard-hitting collection of hardcore / screamo songs that jump out of the speakers and grab you by your face. These twelve songs from JT on vocals, Ethan Osborn on lead guitar, Craig Simons on drums, Tyler Myklebust on guitar, and Jesse Maddy on bass really are catchy and played with energy to spare.

JT has the growls, screams and melody that fill the anthemic choruses with life, Osborn shreds and throws in a few flashy solos, Simons’ drumming and Maddy’s bass playing keep a rhythmic beat that propels the songs forward and Myklebust adds melody and extra power to the songs with his inspired guitar playing. The production was clean and clear, but not in any way did it dull or smooth over the power and energy that was put forward by these guys, they shine with the spotless production. The songs that stood out to me were opener “Welcome To The Show”, “The Relentless”, “Lust of the Lost”, “Legends and Legacies”, and “Searching For A Home”. Not to slight the other songs at all, but these were the ones that just won by a minute edge over the rest of the songs. I really also liked the fact that these guys could go from playing full-on hard and heavy, then pull back and throw in some mellow and delicate sounds in the songs, as well as the interesting song “In Perfect Hindsight” with the synthesizer, and distorted vocals giving the song a cool ambient techno sound.

I’m not usually the biggest fan of screamo, that’s why I’m glad that the hardcore was a huge part of FAMOUS LAST WORDS sound. The band made a debut album that stands out from the mediocrity of other bands in the screamo genre and will be even more powerful and exciting to hear in a live venue.  

DEPARTURES: Teenage Haze: CD

On this sophomore album from Glasgow, Scotland’s DEPARTURES have recorded nine new songs of melodic hardcore with screamo added to it. This is the follow-up to their self-titled album from 2011 and it’s their debut release on No Sleep Records.

“Teenage Haze” is a very short, relaxed instrumental which was cool because lead singer/shouter/screamer James McKean gets a break and so do we. It’s not that I didn’t like his vocals; on the contrary, I just think that sometimes the vocals could be mellowed out a bit, and not screamed in every song. A bit more versatility on the vocals would improve the album a bit, but the band plays really well and McKean does bring a lot of passion to the vocals. The song “Small Steps” starts off slow and builds into a nice hard, fast paced song, then fades again, really well done. “21” is intense with strong vocals, tasty guitar riffs, and pounding drums, and “Where The Time Will Go” starts off slow and then accelerates to the speed of light taking you on its trip.

This band has a lot of potential and the album is really well done. This will surprise fans of hardcore, that you can have more relaxed, mellow songs and still come up with an album that shreds.


Real Fear cover art

These guys have been together since 1998 and after a lengthy layoff; they’re back with eleven new songs. They haven’t had a release out since 2006 and this is a great return to the post hardcore scene.

I listened to this on headphones and could hear all the intricate sounds that they included in the songs that really surprised me. The song “The Moon And The Tide” has some great synthesizer on it, bringing out a cool bit of a new wave feel mixed into the harder parts of the song. The vocals across the album range from screaming to very melodic and come head to head in some songs and work well. The album has two super short songs on it, the first one “Blood On The Handle”, and the fifth song “Sarastro”. The first one is a nice hard and heavy way to kick off the album, while the fifth is a very cool mellow song with piano and synthesizer. The production is flawless, with all the small things that you might not normally hear from the bombast and power that this band has.

I was pleasantly surprised with this album and I hope they get the fans back from the old days and get even more with this release. I was unaware of THE CASKET LOTTERY, but this is a band that I will now keep my eyes and ears on in the future.