In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a progressive metalcore kick as of late. Having a very particular and rarely reached sweet spot when it comes to metalcore, 2017 has proven a welcome surprise for the subgenre as several releases have been able to find that rarified zone technical skill, engaging songwriting, and total headbang-ability. So here we are, back at it again with another effective salvo of metalcore jams, this time from Southampton, UK metalcore destroyers Deference. Their second EP, False Awakening, incorporates many of the elements that make metalcore great, and points to a very promising future for the young quintet.
A critique that I often lodge against metalcore is its lack of diversity both instrumentally and emotionally. Metalcore bands often find a very specific formula to their songwriting and beat it to death over the course of ten to twelve tracks. Diversity? Texture? What are those? It all feels like an hour-long variation of the same bland, formulaic song, and makes me generally an unhappy person. Thankfully, Deference avoids this subgenre pratfall by creating a relatively rich palette of musical and emotional diversity that makes this EP a fun, noteworthy listen.
This isn’t to say that Deference aren’t hard-hitting. Opening shot across the bow “Scavangers” is a direct and punishing elbow to the face, and serves as an anthem for the metalcore faithful. The track builds a rhythmic variation on a theme before the guitars eventually break into an intense flurry of progressions that will most certainly cause some steering wheels to be struck repeatedly for extended periods of time. It’s a blistering opening assault that will undoubtedly please fans of the subgenre.
After a very metalcore introduction, the tonal and emotional direction of the EP shifts into more diverse territory. “Insomnia” and “Departure” are both more epic in scope musically than the bruising opening track, and provide some breathing room compositionally. This is in part due to a very competent production job which affords each instrument a full, texturally diverse soundscape in which to work. All of this instrumental goodness is also complemented by a solid vocal performance, which ranges from powerful cleans to ravenous and intense screams, and gives the record sonic diversity that compliments the instrumental insanity surrounding it.
If we were to name influences, vestiges of early Northlane and Architects are definitely present here, particularly throughout the middle of False Awakening. The final two tracks of the record (consisting of the title track and “Become Death Part 2”), however, find the band branching into a much more original facet of their sound, including some effective usage of samples and cinemascope-level expansive guitar passages that feel forceful, anthemic, and emotionally resonant.
On the whole, Deference mixes intensity and melody in a very satisfying way, and False Awakening is all the richer for it. If you are a fan of forward-thinking metalcore in general, head on over to Spotify and give this EP a listen. Well worth your while.