I’d like you to take a close look at the album art above. What do you think The Bearer plays? First glance to me says something melodic death metal-ish, maybe even somewhere in the folk realm of things. Whatever it is, the music is sure to sound brutal, right?

Well, no and yes, in that order. The Bearer is a hardcore band hailing from Austin. Really, the only thing that even hinted to me that they were a hardcore band was the fact that their only release to date is the self-titled EP whose cover you’ve been looking at, and that was still a bit of a shot in the dark. (Not to say that EPs aren’t uncommon in other forms of metal, but they seem to be much more prevalent in the hardcore scene.)

I only bring up the album cover because (a), it’s awesome, and (b) it represents the band surprisingly well, despite not adhering to the “traditional” hardcore aesthetic. You can’t judge an album by its cover, but sometimes you can in a way that makes you rethink that entire adage. While, yes, The Bearer’s music lands straight in the realm of hardcore/metalcore/metallic hardcore, there are some distinct influences from death metal and, if intuition serves me right, some tendencies used in today’s prog metal scene.

Let’s talk about vocals. The Bearer EP showcases some mad yelling that, while it has its roots in that quintessential hardcore sort of yell, has tinges of death growls to it. All in all, there’s a lot of power in the singer’s voice, and it contributes to the music greatly.

Next, the instrumentals. Again, very hardcore-influenced, but there are little elements here and there that seem to take from other genres. The instrumental opener “Into Battle” lives up to its name perfectly, as it predicts the calm before the storm with a guitar hook that launches into a style of playing that feels a little like Rivers of Nihil’s “Heirless,” what with its dissonant riffs and distinctive guitar tone. The closer “Bloodmouth” starts with this incredible riff that is undeniably Dillinger Escape Plan-esque.

So, in conclusion: this is hardcore. There’s no denying that. This thing screams Converge and Great American Ghost from its very soul, but it has these neat little edges and frills to it that expand its sound some. It’s an fantastic start for a band just starting to put out material.

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