Metalcore, particularly the progressive iteration, is a dead scene. There’s plenty of support for the genre, but most bands have broken up, diversified or remain relevant but hardly influential. Most fans of progressive metalcore get by on a few releases annually and spinning old gems of the genre. Today however, we’d like to introduce you to Raptorbaby. Raptorbaby have recently put out an album titled Citadel and it’s chock full of the proggy metalcore that long time fans will find nostalgic, as well as travelling into some unfamiliar territory. Raptorbaby manages to throwback to early Sumerian Records style of metalcore and deathcore as the foundation for their sound. You can catch some Kezia-era Protest the Hero influence as well. But this isn’t just a rehash of a genre once thriving. It’s an exceptional homage to that era of music, but it also has plenty of tricks up its sleeves too. Let’s dig in.
The bread and butter of Citadel is the early Sumerian sounding “-core”. There are fewer breakdowns here than you’d find on an old Veil of Maya album but rather, it’s filled end to end with riffs and chugs, eventually climaxing by doubling down on the technicality. The guitars use pretty standard harmonized leads overtop of chugging, occasionally throwing in a bout of tapping or weedles. The rhythm section reaches back into the decade spanning history of the genre and uses seemingly every rhythmic tool available to them to keep the flow of the songs feeling fresh and diverse. The vocals aren’t your typical over produced guttural style. They’re a bit strained and raspy, but full of passion and character. With slick production, it’s comfortably good metalcore.
So what do they do differently? As I mentioned before, they’re more than just a throwback. To allow their songwriting chops to shine and avoid running a stale genre’s worth of music into the ground, Raptobaby experiment. There’s some ambient parts. A lot of clean singing. Forrays into unrelated genres. Sweeping choruses and epic chants. They stick with metalcore for most of the duration, but they eagerly step out of their comfort zone as often as a the songs allow. They aren’t afraid to try autotune over an electronic part (backed up by the rest of the band as not to be too abrasive). They venture into symphonics and feature female vocalists.
There are so many snippets of left field material that some of it was bound to be great. Most of it is really good, but it’s worth listening to this for the moment you’re blown away or surprised. The downside here is there’s inevitably, something jarring or poorly executed but these instances are sparse. This otherwise good album, is impressive when it’s turning on a dime. Experimenting with tried and true music seems to just be what Raptorbaby do, because it comes by them naturally.