Counterparts - The Current Will Carry Us
Record Label: Victory Records
Release Date: October 24, 2011
Counterparts are a melodic hardcore/metalcore hybrid from Hamilton, Ontario. Their debut album, Prophets, made waves in the overall heavy music scene as the manifestation of their own unique take on a revival back to a more honest and straightforward period for hardcore. It undoubtedly rekindled the spirits of despondent fans who thought their time had passed. Being a very young band in terms of member age, Counterparts have been issued the challenge of continuing to expound and capitalize on their ever-growing momentum, while still taking more time to discover themselves and what their real musical inclinations are. Their new album, The Current Will Carry Us, has been esteemed by its authors to do just that.
The Current Will Carry Us takes a darker and heavier instrumental definition in comparison to Prophets, which had a serious amount of drive but seemed to lack a good chunk of the momentous punch that fans of heavy music everywhere can relate to. Indeed, as Brendan yells angrily in "I Am No One", Counterparts is "no longer the prophet that [it] once claimed to be". Instead of the soaring lead riffs taking center stage amidst Brendan's optimistic words, The Current Will Carry Us continues the self-propelled vortex of speed and technicality while wrapping it around very dense, distorted, and low-tuned (maybe even djenty?) riffs that crash together exceptionally violently, with a still motivational but more realistic lyrical direction from Brendan. The general appearance isn't all that has changed either, as the bass guitar becomes much more musically polarized in two directions. The first is a very sludgy and droning mass that is relatable to more ambient forms of metalcore, best shown in "MMVII". The second is opting out of the occasional breakdowns used in Prophets and increasing the chugging speed to the point which the bass guitar actually rivals the percussion in being the most energetic tempo placement, best shown in "Jumping Ship". It's interesting to hear these two approaches alternate between tracks. The guitar work has also gotten something of an ambient facelift. Although the quick and uplifting lead solos are still present, there are several occurrences where the riffs are drawn out, creating a more textured effect to suit the darker soundscape that becomes thematic on the album.
Despite all of my speaking of change, don't expect anything too drastic. Counterparts haven't turned into a technically-obsessed drone metal band. They have simply made changes to accentuating subtleties which redefine and re-emphasize their already distinguished features. The percussion and all the guitars are just as quick, if not quicker than ever, only with the newfound solidarity described above. The beautiful down-tempo atmospheric sections a la "Goodbye, Megaton" are also still present although they have become something of a rarity, with the only real instance being at the end of "Pedestal". Even more consistent between releases are Brendan's always well-executed unclean vocals, barking and roaring with the same fierceness of Prophets and with some added rhythm sensibility as well ("I Am No One"). To my dismay, however, the scarcely found cleans have taken a very big step down from the well-implemented end of "Sturdy Wings" to the horrendously clashing end of "MMVII".
From my perspective, Counterparts have always been something of an oddity amongst their scene. While their melodic hardcore roots and inspiration are unabashedly displayed in their music, attitude, and imagery, the metalcore influences that they incorporate have been enough to alienate them from the extreme hardcore purists. In a similar fashion, I have met younger kids on certain addicting music sites who are a musical collective consciousness, something I had thought to be exaggerated until personally witnessing it. They limit themselves only to the extremely stale breakdown gimmick, rather than delving into new sounds in the general vicinity such as the subject of this review. Because of that, Counterparts seem to have had the most success amongst genre smorgasbord-dabblers such as myself as well as the loyal but open-minded hardcore fan. Counterparts don't need to apologize for anything, as their music stands as a testament to their dedication toward musical integrity.