Thursday, 16 August 2012

Review: Heart of a Coward - Hope and Hindrance

 This review really has been a long time coming. I've been in possession of Hope and Hindrance, the debut full length from Milton Keynes metallers Heart of a Coward since it came free with last month's Metal Hammer magazine. And since then, the band have come to gain a higher profile, helped amongst the underground metal scene by the fact that it is in sense the new band by Jamie Graham, formerly of the wonderful Sylosis. So, with a new ambition and a major influence from this upcoming style they call "djent", the band have already come into their own. And it's easy to see why.

 When people first started talking about this "djent" style in the way that all bands were inspired by the likes of Meshuggah and Sikth, I was a little terrified that the entire genre would consist of guitar snobs using their time recording music to simply show how technically gifted they were on guitar and not really take the time to write real songs as a result. However, Heart of a Coward prove this notion wrong thankfully again, as Hope and Hindrance reveals itself to be a song of intelligently constructed songwriting.

 It's such songwriting that sees the skillful guitar work of Carl Ayers and Steve Haycock built into thundering grooves that you can find on the likes of Around a Girl (In 80 Days) and And Only Time Will Tell, alongside the surprisingly catchy We Stand as One, one of the catchiest and most uplifting decent metal songs since perhaps Pantera's Cowboys From Hell. Given the use of palm muting across the album, these grooves come thicker, with much greater depth than much competition. (Sylosis, perhaps?)

 The songwriting in itself feels like a proper event musically. From the moment opener Killing Fields reaches it's conclusion and seamlessly flows into All Eyes to the Sky, something of a sense of enlightenment can be felt from the delicate soundscaping the band captivate. Built into graceful melodies and dramatic backdrops, the progressive element brought into the music is only too beautiful. By the time the album bows out on the magnificent outro of Break These Chains mixing such absorbing atmospherics with such pulsing grooves, you're left knowing that this is a band that Jamie Graham has put his heart and soul into and are on a completely different page to his previous musical outing.

 You learn that, and the fact that maybe there is something to this specific "djent" scene after all. It's really not a term I want to use regularly, but if it manages to create something as wonderful as Hope and Hindrance, then it's probably a term worth looking out for if it's able to give bands a guideline of how to make their albums. Heart of a Coward have looked down this path while bringing in their own knowledge of progressive metal and metalcore to bring something truly heavy, truly clever and truly mind-blowing to the ever-rising world of new British metal bands. And for not checking them out until now, I feel dirty, like I've committed a criminal offence.

Heart of a Coward's Hope and Hindrance is out now via Self-Release. The band will tour the UK in November on the Metal Hammer Razor Tour with Devil Sold His Soul, Heights and Steak Number Eight.

No comments:

Post a Comment