Heart of a Coward
04 November 2013
Jamie Graham, former frontman of Sylosis, is now two albums deep into a career with his “new” band, Heart Of A Coward. Severance actually lives up to the seemingly try-hard nature of its title by giving the vocalist an essential distance from his former work.
Despite this, Graham’s impact on Severance is still minimal when set against the rest of this album. Graham remains solid throughout the record, but in never stepping out from the five-piece, allows himself to be somewhat obfuscated. It’s this, in my opinion that both grounds Severance, and allows it to excel.
Severance is dominated by incredible sounding guitar work. Heart of a Coward have removed almost all tonality from their riffs, giving the staccatoed thuds a mechanical quality that TesseracT employ so well. Given that TesseracT’s Acle Kahney was present at the recording of these parts it seems unsurprising that the band have absorbed this into their new album. The music, however, is all their own. Ten seconds into opener ‘Monstro’ and the crisp monotone of that guitar sound, complete with minimalist finish, opens into a pummelling riff that instantly gives away the band’s deference to tech and the stunted groove of metalcore.
When unexpected melodies do arise, they gratefully appear built-in to the fabric of the record. Justin Hill (he of of SikTh) puts clean vocals to ‘Distance’, and instead of sounding out of place, gives the song a sort of Chino Moreno off-kilter darkness that still feels sweet against the rest of Severance. The atmospheric and near upbeat opening of ‘Nauseum’ soon disintegrates as some Meshuggah-born monstrosity blocks out the sun, shrivelling all organisms in its inky and pulsating shadow.
The unshowy but glorious crunch of the guitars, the muscular and off-tempo drums tugging at the sleeve of progressive metal and Graham’s seething but understated delivery are vital components in Heart of a Coward’s hopeful longevity. I couldn’t think of a bigger relief for Graham following the endless best-of-British platitudes that followed the early years of Sylosis around like a bad smell. Heart of a Coward sound like a band growing, and flourishing, at their own pace.
Sounds Like: TesseracT, Meshuggah
Standout tracks: Deadweight, Distance, Mirrors