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One of the biggest challenges that comes with writing a modern hardcore record is striking a balance between melody and aggression, ensuring the songs sound interesting, while maintaining a hard-hitting edge to avoid falling flat. To that end, on latest album ‘The Difference Between Hell and Home‘ Canadian outfit Counterparts deliver a master class in getting the chemistry right, crafting a record that is equal parts emotive and savage.
From the get-go there’s a sense of desperate urgency present on ‘The Difference Between Hell and Home‘. There isn’t some sort of grating, pseudo-profound introduction and the immediacy is not only refreshing but engaging – opener ‘Lost’ is both an incendiary and impressively vivid start to the record. Tracks like, ‘Ghost’ and ‘Slave’ are relentless in their sheer vitriol, in a way that feels very cathartic, calling forth fairly strong memories of the ferocity found on debut album ‘Prophets‘. On the flipside, the hooky, melodic guitar lines and dynamics on songs such as ‘Wither‘ are far more reminiscent of the album that followed, ‘The Current Will Carry Us‘.
However, it’s far from covering old ground. Where ‘The Difference Between Hell and Home‘ really shines is letting the best elements of both records complement one another. The overall mood darts back and forth between melodic and intricate, heavy and raw. When these play into each other’s strengths – as seen on ‘Outlier’, or powerful album closer ‘Soil’ – we see a portrait of a band that have matured and evolved as far as their songwriting is concerned. What’s more, these elements aren’t merely copied and pasted – Counterparts sound tighter and more technically proficient on this record than ever before. In particular, the rhythm section of Eric Bazinet (bass) and Kelly Bilan (drums) hold the album together with commanding flow, while showing off their own flair as musicians. It’s Bilan‘s first outing with the band after joining last year, and the percussionist comes into the fold nicely.
With their third album, Counterparts finally manage to develop an album that feels individual. By taking the elements that have stood out most clearly on their previous records and injecting a sense of demanding vitality, it feels altogether passionate, engaging, and forceful. Check it out.