Canadian metalcore outfit Counterparts released their latest album, You’re Not You Anymore, last week via Pure Noise Records.
Since their debut in 2010, Counterparts have been leagues ahead of most of their contemporaries in metalcore and melodic hardcore. They are defined by their technical, yet melodic and catchy guitar leads, crushing breakdowns, and the personal, emotionally gripping lyrics of vocalist (and only remaining original member of the band) Brendan Murphy. Throughout their career, they haven’t deviated from their formula too much, instead carving their own niche in the genre and refining their sound into something truly great. Their first two albums were good, but it was more straightforward metalcore in the vein of Misery Signals, and didn’t separate themselves much from the state of the genre at the time.
Their 2013 release, The Difference Between Hell and Home, was a major leap forward and remains my personal favorite album by them. The songs became much more melodic, with choruses becoming more frequent, while also being their most experimental and atmospheric. Every song is chill-inducing in the best way, yet their increased emotional potency and improved songwriting didn’t make their music any less moshable. Their follow up, Tragedy Will Find Us, moved further in the melodic hardcore direction, with their metalcore elements only really being present during the breakdowns which were executed better than ever. It was just below The Difference in terms of quality, but while the songwriting may have improved even further, and every song was a direct punch to the gut in terms of lyrics, it didn’t push the boundaries as much as their previous record did.
Going into this new album, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, especially since the band added a new drummer, bassist, and most importantly, a new lead guitarist, replacing Jesse Doreen, who had been a member since their founding and was integral to the band’s sound. The lead single, “Bouquet,” kind of mislead me as to what the album would sound like. While a great song, it’s straight up melodic hardcore, with no breakdowns or anything really indicative of their original sound. However, the rest of the album is the antithesis of that track, because this is probably their heaviest and angriest record yet.
It’s also their shortest, clocking in at only 27 minutes. Despite being heavier than their previous couple albums, it’s also their least complex musically. The rests, stopping points, and interludes that allowed the music to breathe and build tension towards the heavy parts are mostly gone. The choruses are more anthemic than they’ve ever been, and the breakdowns are pummeling and well-executed as always. It’s definitely an album that sounds like it would sound better in a live context.
That may have sounded like I dislike the album or was disappointed by it, but I really enjoyed it. It’s still Counterparts, and it still has most of what makes them such a great band. There aren’t any weak tracks, but one of the things that set Counterparts ahead of their contemporaries was their ability to deliver emotional gut-punches that would stick in ones head for a long time. Besides the title track, which closes the album, there aren’t really any of those here. This is a highly enjoyable record, and it’ll still make an appearance on my end of the year list. I’d place it ahead of their first two records, but below Tragedy and The Difference. With most of their lineup being new, I’m not surprised they decided to play it kind of safe and make an enjoyable, banger-filled album rather than one that pushes their creative boundaries.