For those of you who’ve hung around the metalcore scene since the early 2000s, you have my respect. You’ve been through some real shit. Whether it’s the cringey downward spirals of the scene’s power players into mediocre, wannabe radio darlings or the lackluster output of quality records this side of the decade, things just ain’t the way they used to be. For everyone who jumped ship, word of a new Bleeding Through record may or may not be enough to pique your interest. We’ve seen Killswitch Engage, Underoath, Atreyu and a few other less-notable acts return with relatively disappointing efforts, so you wouldn’t be amiss to be little apprehensive about busting out the dingy sweatbands and studded belts, but if Love Will Kill All has any say in it, you might find yourself sitting on a little Facebook Marketplace goldmine.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Love WIll Kill All demonstrates that the Orange County masters can tap into their signature aggression as if it’s still 2003. It’s not ever as blunt as The Truth’s opening “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK!” but Brandan Schieppati is still very much a really pissed off dude, and is still about as subtle as a rabid gorilla. Albeit sometimes a little too candid for this writer’s tastes, there’s little doubt that his performance exudes a convincing authenticity. As it was on all of their previous records, this remains a double-edged sword: it’s impressively aggressive, but not without dishing out a number of smirk-inducing lines. The delightfully scathing drill sergeant bark of “Here’s your life now piss it away!” on the speedy “Cold World” is as chuckle-worthy as it is to become another in a long line of throw-your-fists-in-the-air fan favorites. If this particular line doesn’t do it, the “Listen here son / You will die with fucking nothing” bow atop the track’s breakdown will. The dude simply doesn’t let up with memorable aggro gems like this, and gives them the energetic appeal that’s made their work so cathartic and fun.
Yet, the melodic side of the record is not underserved. Here, Schieppati finds room for growth with an expanded range while polishing up the choruses which have sometimes been a little rough around the edges in the past. He’s truly at the top of his game. Check out the soaring bridge in “Cold World” (is that really him?), the HIM-inspired goth pop accents toward the end of “Dead Eyes,” or even just the chorus in “Life;” the guy sounds like he’s been off on a far-away mountain honing his craft for the last six years (maybe he has a boost from some studio magic, too). It also helps that Love WIll Kill All skews on the more aggressive side, so the melodic moments feel a little more climactic as they don’t cannibalize themselves. This too should also serve as a nod to the fantastic sequencing which keeps things evergreen. Functionally, the album works all the better with supremely tight songwriting. Only one of the album’s 12 tracks tips over the four-minute mark with most hovering around a lean three without a chance for anything to overstay its welcome. You won’t find drawn-out intros (short of the skippable opener “Darkness A Feeling I Know”), stupid-long breakdowns, vibe-killing “Line In The Sand” breathers, or overplayed choruses (sidenote: is there anything worse than that?); they just get the jabs in and make each one count, pushing the record into the upper echelon of their discography with staying power and streamlined replayability.
With that in mind, Love Will Kill All feels hyper-concentrated, true to the potency of the group. In the bigger picture, it’s a much-needed and rejuvenating adrenaline boost to the genre, and it’s the perfect kind of album to showcase on the road. “End Us” is a staple metalcore anthem replete with gang vocals, a singalong chorus, chug-a-lug breakdowns, and of course some windmill inducing double kick. “Slave” is essentially circle pit fuel – a sure live banger. I’d bet the house that track’s pseudo-Fear Factory churn gets put on pause to rowdy up the crowd, it’s all but written that way with a glitchy vocal effect and reboot at the midpoint. Throughout, china beatdowns and kick flurries ramp up the benchpresscore vibes pretty hard, but the melodeath riffing and blackened flavors of tremolos and synth seem to carry a little more weight this go around, lending a moodier, darker vibe. As expected, Marta Peterson’s keys are a big part of this. They puncture the mix with a satisfying clarity that regularly hints at a Ghost-y (or maybe even Dodger Stadium?) organ influence in favor of the icy Dimmu Borgir-tinged accents on their earlier output. The synths here are heavy, retro, and dreary, carrying a legit symphonic air where prior mixes may have felt a little thin. Dig her work on “Buried” and “Fade Into The Ash,” it’s something you can sink your teeth into. The same can be said for the rest of the mix. It’s dynamic, burly, and arguably their best-sounding effort to date. Hats off to producer Mick Kenney for really nailing it this go around.
Keep in mind, much of this is still a trip down memory lane. Who hasn’t heard a stompy riff like the one found in “No Friends” before? No, the panic chords on “Remains” don’t give the goosebumps like they might have years ago. The cold open on “No One From Nowhere” isn’t as arresting as it might have been on the first go around. This record doesn’t go out of its way to push genre boundaries, but instead refine a sound that’s been rock solid and essentially proprietary from the get-go. Stepping out of the comfort zone after a six-year absence would prove to be risky, so their prudence here is wise. Today, they sound more complete than they ever have, a tall compliment considering their fantastic discography. This is fucking aggressive, this is fucking fun. If you’ve been away from the metalcore game for some time, lace up your dancing shoes and get back in the pit. In the words of someone not named LL Cool J, “just call it a comeback.”
Love Will Kill All is out today on SharpTone Records.