Review: Counterparts – Tragedy Will Find Us

Counterparts-Tragedy-Will-Find-Us-coverIt’s been two years since Counterparts released the outstanding The Difference Between Hell and Home. In the interval since, the band has seen tremendous growth in popularity, becoming a household name in the hardcore and metalcore scenes and garnering a robust reputation as one of the genres’ finest acts. With a raised profile and the unavoidable pressures and expectations that come with it, following up an album as widely acclaimed as Hell and Home would be no easy task.

Throughout Tragedy Will Find Us, the band’s fourth full-length and first for new labels Pure Noise and New Damage, Counterparts honour the central elements of their sound while introducing enough novelty to keep it interesting. The band have opted to shake things up by indulging in their love of metalcore to an unprecedented extent – if 2011’s The Current Will Carry Us was the sound of a band delving further into their old-school hardcore and punk roots, then this new record signals a shift towards a decidedly heavier, bigger, more metalcore-oriented sound. This is evident in the chunky beatdown featured on the opening track, as well as in the build leading to the Earth-shattering conclusion to “Stranger”, a song that begs to be performed live and will likely become a favourite among listeners. While colossal breakdowns aren’t what Counterparts are primarily known for, moments like these showcase the band’s impressive ability to take an otherwise familiar – perhaps even tired – musical concept and inject it with the creativity and energy needed to make it exciting.

Melody has always been the focal point of Counterparts’ instrumentation, and there’s no shortage of it on this new outing. At times it can be quite dark, like on “Resonate”, a song that features some particularly ominous and jarring riffs. For the most part, however, the band stick to the brightness that has long characterized their sound, with tracks like “Tragedy, “Withdrawal”, and “Drown” featuring some of the most elegant guitar parts the band has ever written. These melodies soar beautifully, and are often unashamedly catchy and accessible. While the band have made an effort to introduce some surprises throughout the LP, they largely preserve the core sound that fans know and love; instead of making drastic revisions to their songwriting formula, Counterparts continue to cultivate and refine a style that they unquestionably excel at.

It doesn’t take close scrutiny to realize that the lyrical content on TWFU is a far cry from the overtly uplifting messages that were featured on Prophets, the band’s debut full-length. This record delves deeply into themes of despair and isolation, documenting a real-life battle with depression in an exceptionally intimate manner. Hopefully, the album will be viewed as a story of coping with depression rather than succumbing to it, and can serve to underpin an emerging cultural shift wherein mental illness is recognized as a legitimate issue and destigmatized accordingly. Talking openly about such experiences is an important part of this process, and judging by the countless people who’ve expressed the sense of relief they feel when listening to Counterparts and bands like them, it seems reasonable to suggest that despite the bleak worldview often depicted in this music, there is some underlying positivity to be found in it.

 

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