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On 2016’s ‘Theories of Despair,’ U.K. quintet Renounced told us, quite emphatically, to ‘Abandon Your King’. A hard-hitting track that served as a fierce rallying cry against depression and resentment, it also closed with the following declaration of rebellion and discontent: “Abandon your king/There will be no compromise.” Three years on, the band have returned fresh from signing to heavy label powerhouse Holy Roar Records, ready to unveil their third full-length album: ‘Beauty is a Destructive Angel’. And looking at the band’s PR statement for this new record cycle, it’s clear that the previous notion of wilful antagonism has since evolved into full-blown regicide: “Dear Metalcore, watch the throne.”
Over the last few years here at KYS, I’ve written about the ongoing metalcore revival, what I like to classify as ‘third-wave metalcore’, if we want to get all Pitchforky about it. I’ve covered the return of these late 90s/early 00s-influenced sounds dropping into an oversaturated scene chock full of trust-fund tattooed, swoopy haired, v-neck wearing clones, autotuned choruses, running-on-the-spot stage moves, and abysmal ‘Pop Goes Whatever’ covers.
However, if the metalcore throne has been up for grabs for some time now, Renounced certainly aren’t the only ones vying for it. Groups like Counterparts, Johnny Booth, Old Wounds, Ithaca, Polaris, AXIS, Chamber, Architects, Wristmeetrazor, Sanction, While She Sleeps, My Dying Wish, Diamond Construct and Employed To Serve have all had a crack at it, some more successfully than others. Of course, that’s not even mentioning the recent career-defining releases from Knocked Loose, Seeyouspacecowboy and Vein too. So, with all this in mind, how does ‘Beauty is a Destructive Angel’ stack up not just for Renounced but also the future of the metalcore kingdom? Pretty damn well.
On their third album, Renounced sound refined, expansive and ready to conquer. The group’s pre-release singles showcase the London-based quintet doing what they do best. ‘Self Inflicted’ features crushing, discordant lead-rhythm interplay from guitarists Sam Knight and Daniel Rayner, pummelling breakdowns and vocalist Daniel Gray’s piercing and impassioned screams; not to mention a surprise guest-spot from Counterparts frontman Brendan Murphy. Meanwhile, ‘In a Year’s Turning’ sports one of the album’s best choruses, paired with harmonized leads, panic chords, jackhammer beatdowns, and atmospheric melodies. Both tracks serve as the perfect primer for Renounced’s nostalgic mission statement: “Death to false metalcore.”
As a cohesive whole, ‘Beauty is a Destructive Angel’ feels tighter and more focused than their previous efforts, while individual songs have unique signatures that help to define them. The chorus of ‘Saltation’ peppers lofty background cleans in the vein of Poison The Well with sliding jackhammer riffs; ‘Calloused’ and ‘General Population’ make use of classic two-step rhythms in the verses, guaranteed to get those mosh warriors up on their feet; the opening salvo of ‘The Rico Conspiracy’ features a brutal double-kick assault from drummer Jack Bryant, further contrasted by clean singing and a transcendent chorus melody; and the bridge of the record’s title track adds some much-needed breathing room before bringing back a stellar chorus section, strengthened by driving power chords.
Elsewhere, when Renounced transition into long-form compositions, their attention to detail and narrative coherence combines with nuanced songwriting. On the standout ‘Calculated Risk,’ unnerving panic chords worm their way around labyrinthian lead riffs and stomp sections, as Gray enunciates certain phrases with extra grit in his growl, making his trademark hardcore bark sound even more pained and anguished by comparison. And when the spoken-word line hits, your ears only have seconds before a massive beatdown kicks in and blows the whole track wide-open, before the band wraps things up with an elegiac acoustic passage. Album closer ‘In a Statue of Frozen Glass’ acts as a suitable endpoint for the record, where delicate guitars chime against rhythmic chugging and Gray’s coarse vocal line – feeling more post-rock than metalcore at times – as the track dissipates into a fade-out, echoing the track’s title with a narrative moment frozen in time.
Real talk: on LP#3, Renounced sound like a long-lost relic from a mid-2000s time-capsule. Think MySpace Top 8’s, bullet belts and snakebite piercings. And despite your initial reservations, yes, that’s a good thing. Because ‘Beauty is a Destructive Angel’ hits like a nostalgic throwback to some of the most-loved metalcore albums of all time: Unearth’s ‘The Oncoming Storm’; Killswitch Engage’s ‘Alive or Just Breathing’; Caliban’s ‘The Opposite From Within’; Bleeding Through’s ‘This Is Love, This Is Murderous’; It Dies Today’s ‘The Caitiif Choir’; As I Lay Dying’s ‘Shadows Are Security’; and of course, the OG, Misery Signal’s classic, flawless debut, ‘Of Malice and The Magnum Heart’. Simply put, if you want to be reassured that, in 2019, the kingdom of metalcore is firmly in good hands, then Renounced’s new album will put your mind at ease.
- Self Inflicted
- In a Years Turning
- Calculated Risk
- The Rico Conspiracy
- General Population
- Beauty is a Destructive Angel
- In a Statue of Frozen Glass
‘Beauty is a Destructive Angel’ is out September 27th via Holy Roar. You can find physical & digital copies of the record here.