2X4 - Dark Hand EP
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Metalcore is a genre that many consider to be in desperate need of revitalization. While bands like August Burns Red, who are the current leaders of the genre, allow it to stay afloat by providing interesting riffs, bone crushing vocals, and fast, powerful drum beats, much of the genre is buried beneath boring breakdowns, monotonous vocals, and a lack of variation between songs. An album doesn't need to have new concepts to be enjoyable, but a spark needs to be created to get listeners to be interested in the tired formula. Hailing from Durant, Oklahoma, the five-piece metalcore outfit 2X4 try to inject life into the genre with their new EP Dark Hand. Unfortunately the product is an average take on the genre, creating an enjoyable listen for the first few spins, but quickly growing stale as there is almost no substance to the albeit aggressive set of songs.
However, aggression can only get a band so far. Lead singer Micah Hutson is a competent screamer reminding me of a cross between For the Fallen Dream's past vocalist Dylan Richter and Whitechapels Phil Bozeman. Hutson screams and growls to lyrics that will get a live crowd moving, off their feet and into the pits, but he does not demonstrate variety. For most of the EP he sticks to the same monotonous scream throughout, only delving into the low death metal growls on occasion. After the second run of the EP, I was clambering for some semblance of variety. The song "Entombed", one of two stand out tracks on the EP, shows a glimmer of hope as Hutson utilizes higher pitched screams as he yells "How could I not change? Why can't we all change?" and showcases an intensity that is seldom heard on the rest of Dark Hand.
If there is one thing to be said about 2X4, it is that they are consistently heavy. I was assaulted with breakdowns, Hutson's demonic growls, and drummer Matt Dierkes's fast paced and well executed drum work through Dark Hand. It is only a quick flash in the pan however as the EP quickly loses its impact. Dark Hand is heavy, but for me that can only get a band so far. The best displays of musicianship were the second guitar riffs underlying the breakdowns throughout the EP and the guitar solo in the second stand out track, the title-track, "Dark Hand". I wanted to hear more of those aspects, not just the usual breakdowns.
2X4 is a capable metalcore band, displaying that they can play the genre effectively and create an entertaining EP. Unfortunately, it is an experience that did not stick in my mind because of Hutson's monotonous vocals, the lackluster, albeit heavy, musicianship, and an overall feeling that they have more to offer. Their talent peeks through on tracks like "Entombed" and "Dark Hand", but never reaches a level that creates a big enough interest for me. Hopefully on their next release they can grow and develop on the aforementioned points and create a product that leaves a much bigger impression.