Beartooth – Sick EP (2013)


Oh, Attack Attack! What can be said about this band’s breakup that hasn’t already been sputtered on music blogs across the internet; it was more than necessary and welcome. At the same time, though, the long-awaited passing of this scene post-hardcore band has been followed by two new reincarnations: three of the remaining members forming Nativ, while former singer Caleb Shomo began his modern hardcore project, Beartooth. Even though Beartooth has been around for little over a year now, they are already signed to Red Bull Records, have over 20,000 Facebook fans and have released the Sick EP earlier this summer. Considering the nature of Shomo’s previous band, my hopes for that change of sound still held an aura of skepticism. Attack Attack! had lost any appeal they had for me some time ago, so seeing Shomo doing a new sound is both a welcome event as well as a bittersweet one.

Sick begins with the first single, titled “I Have a Problem,” which smacked me in the mouth with its up-tempo beats and a catchy groove, only accented by Shomo’s screams about alcoholism. Once the first chorus parts, though, we end up dropping back into the slow, slightly boring grooves I was afraid of from the get-go. It wouldn’t be bad if the song began on a slower tempo, but all it does at this point is stop the momentum the band had built up. The instruments are on point – as are the screams and clean vocals – but the lack of proper transition between tempos is what keeps this track from being a true gem.

The next track, “Go Be the Voice,” keeps a slower rhythm, having a sort of Oh, Sleeper feel to it. The song as a whole is pretty average, with Shomo’s clean vocals on the chorus shining above the, to be completely honest, dull verses. The guitar and bass are the weak point for this release because they do very little to make their presence known aside from just being there. The riffs are bland and the breakdowns – though executed well in that there aren’t too many to become sterilizing – just don’t have the pop that one would expect from such angry and emotional lyrics.

The final two tracks, “Pick Your Poison” and “Set Me On Fire,” feature some of the best moments on the EP. “Pick Your Poison” has a riff that isn’t exactly original-sounding, yet it actually holds your attention nicely into the catchy chorus. There is a breakdown, but it still holds some strength to it. “Set Me On Fire” is probably my favorite track on Sick just because of how well executed Shomo’s vocals are throughout the song. His screams seem to have an extra bit of power to them throughout the song for some reason – not to mention his cleans in the chorus truly shine on the track.

You may have noticed that I talked quite a bit about Caleb Shomo, but not too much about the rest of the band. Well, to be honest, that actually does seem to be how the EP goes; it’s the Caleb Shomo Experience. The guitar and bass do little other than complement his vocals, and the drums are just there, not doing much either. Instrumentally, this is, for lack of a better term, a sexless metalcore record. Though it definitely has some high points – most notably the choruses for “I Have A Problem” and “Pick Your Poison” – the EP just doesn’t do enough to keep the listener interested, even if it is just a small taste of the band. If Sick is any indication of the band’s state, I patiently await the day they reach full health because they do have a lot of potential here; it just needs to be nursed a bit.