For Fans Of
There’s something to be said about being safe yet risky, and no, not in a teenage, let’s-see-how-far-we-can-go kind of way either, but in a musically creative way. See, what made Counterparts’ last album, ‘The Difference Between Hell and Home’ (which for word count’s sake, will be listed as TDBHAH) such a fantastic release was its punchy mix, its brutal honesty and passion, and most importantly, the perfect melding of the band’s melodic and hardcore/punk elements. Now all of those aspects return for their new album, ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’, yet, while the storm has returned, the lightning has not struck twice. Well, not fully at least.
Again, the band’s music is solely situated on Brendon Murphy‘s vocals and cathartic lyrics. Again, the band expertly weave between their two opposing musical tendencies, like a car effortlessly manoeuvring between two lanes of traffic that are going in opposite directions; one to melody and one to heaviness. Yet again there are 11 one-word tracks, and once again, it’s all solid stuff, but it falls short of its predecessor as a true sequel; it’s just more of the same. That’s an issue as the Canadian quintet’s past three albums have all been different from one another. Their debut, ‘Prophets’ was fast and heavy, ‘The Current Will Carry Us Home‘ was more melodic and emotive, and TDBHAH was a combination of both. That pattern hasn’t been followed here, and instead of trying to push the envelope further or experiment, the band seems to be content with licking it shut and just mailing the letter off. With that being said, great music isn’t solely birthed from bands trying something new, as one can make generic music and still make it of a high quality, but blimey, it really fucking helps when you try and push your music further and further. That hasn’t happened here, which is the main criticism.
The only real “change” to the Counterparts formula is the stronger emphasis on spoken word, which gives off a very American Nightmare/La Dispute vibe. On their previous outing, there was one song ruled by ethereal spoken word and haunting melody and that was ‘Decay‘, which is still one of the best songs the band has ever written (come fight me about it). Yet nothing on ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ comes close to that song. Furthermore, the mix isn’t quite as beefy or as punchy as its predecessor. While that’s not a huge letdown, as that may be exactly how the band wanted this album to sound, when the first song, ‘Stillborn‘ doesn’t smack you hard right across the face like the adrenaline-pumping ‘Lost‘ did, then some may find it hard to feel as engaged.
From ‘Stillborn’ right up until the closing track, ‘Solace’, the band offers up plenty of heavy and fast hardcore, moshable, jump-on-your-mates moments (end of ‘Stranger‘ or on ‘Choke‘) and a few heart-felt, melodic moments that will try and bring a big ol’ lump right up into your throat (like the last half of ‘Resonate‘, or the entirety of ‘Collapse‘). Yet all of that is the very same thing TDBHAH achieved with sheer flying colours two years ago, and thus the impact and importance of this album is slightly lost as it’s stuck in its predecessor’s shadow. While ‘Resonate‘ and ‘Burn‘ do offer up the better moments of the record, it’s not quite enough. ‘Tragedy…‘ may be Counterparts’ sole identity, but when so many others are changing the formula’s up, and striking gold, this record can’t compare with such familiarity.
It’s not that ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ is bad, far from it, but much like the last albums from Hundredth and The Story So Far, it’s just more of the same and devoid of any real risk. Maybe it’s because this reviewer has been spoiled by so many bands that have offered up releases that have redefined perceptions of what their particular sound could entail. Look no further than Senses Fail, Refused, Enter Shikari, Periphery, Stories, Ocean Grove for the best examples. Thus, sadly, this feels lacklustre to go from such creative and identifying records to hear this solid, yet very safe record.