For Fans Of
Despite what modern-day metalcore fanatics might have you believe, Currents are not, nor have ever been a groundbreaking band. 2017’s ‘The Place I Feel The Safest’ has become wildly popular among fans of the genre in the last few years, but I just can’t help but scratch my head wondering why. From my perspective, it is only a fine album with a handful of cool songs, but nothing I haven’t heard before from many other bands who do that brand of metal better. 2018’s critically acclaimed follow-up EP, ‘I Let The Devil In,’ showed that this band certainly had potential after all. While not cohesively a great effort, songs like the wonderful ‘Into Despair,’ or the stupidly heavy ‘Forever Marked’ certainly grabbed my attention. That EP proudly displayed that Currents may not just be another carbon copy of Wage War or Architects; that they have the potential to step out on their own. So here we are in 2020, with ‘The Way It Ends’ coming this June. Going into this new LP, I pondered if this band would end up creating something noteworthy, and it turns out that Currents had exactly that same mindset.
‘The Way It Ends’ is a perfectly fitting title for Currents’ sophomore LP. This record absolutely reeks of apocalyptic sorrow, constantly being drenched in pain, sadness, and anger; the kind that leads towards a powerful climax. Currents have perfectly mastered their formula of intertwining airy and ambient clean sections with an onslaught of dissonant riffage and punishing Drop F chugs, leaving little to no room to breathe in their tightly packed mixes. This chaotic game of tug-of-war is displayed excellently on massive cuts like the haunting ‘Kill The Ache,’ which features some nicely placed early 2010s throwback synths and sorrowful, spacey clean vocals. ‘Let Me Leave’ follows a similar formula, albeit softer and more delicate in tone. In fact, that particular cut makes for one of the album’s highlights, with some extremely Architects-sounding clean sections and a booming, djenty ending that grooves with explosive energy.
This isn’t to say that this album is filled with ballads. Currents perfectly scratch that heavy itch on massive cuts like the Make Them Suffer-worshiping ‘Split,’ or the absolutely mental ‘Monsters.’ ‘Monsters’ might fool you at first with its calming clean break following its opening section, but worry not, as it soon devolves into absolute chaos, the kind that displays the guitarists’ excellent ability to transition from one monstrous riff to the next. And if we’re talking about all-out heavy tracks, we absolutely cannot ignore the two incredible singles ‘Poverty of Self’ and ‘Second Skin,’ the latter of which is easily one of my favorite songs here. Though, the heavier tracks on ‘The Way It Ends’ are far from my favorites.
Far and away the most enjoyable aspect of Current’s second album is the one-two punch of the closing tracks, ‘How I Fall Apart’ and ‘Better Days.’ The former opens up with some hazy, reverb-soaked clean guitars and sustain-heavy pads, with vocalist Brian Wille giving a heartbreaking, somber vocal performance that is among his best yet. The song quickly devolves into an absolutely mesmerizing chorus, then followed by a profoundly heavy and technical mid-section that will destroy crowds all around the world. Just when you are starting to think that you just heard the best song on the album, the surprisingly epic closing track ‘Better Days’ gives you an emotional punch in the gut. This is by far the best Currents song in existence: downright impressive for a band I held with such little regard only a few months ago.
Following some choppy, bass-driven clean sections, the track grips the listener with a despair-soaked chorus and an extremely tense and powerful second half. And in case you were still curious about the breakdowns to come, just wait until you hear the absolutely devastating ending this track offers. I have my doubts that Currents will write anything better than ‘Better Days,’ but it now wouldn’t be the first time this band has surprised me.
To be completely blunt, Currents don’t have much to offer lyrically. The music on ‘The Way It Ends‘ I’m all here for there, yet the actual lyricism behind the songs leaves me wanting. The way I see it, the split is this: the larger themes of their songs are personal and important topics to raise in heavy music, no one can doubt that, but the actual words don’t quite get there. For when broken down into their smaller lyrical components, most of the actual words fail to achieve anything that substantive. As most of these tracks are centered around certain rhyme schemes and structures, that’s where it feels like Currents starts to lose potential substance in the words that they share.
For instance, ‘Monsters’ speaks about the horror of living with a toxic or even abusive partner or family member – a true monster – but fails to reach anything beyond the surface level of this heavy and serious subject matter. I cannot blame anyone for not wanting to go more in-depth when speaking about their own trauma – that’s their story to tell and their story to tell when they’re ready – though the lyricism to ‘Monsters‘ feels like a very broad stroke instead of something focused and direct about these kinds of awful experiences. Elsewhere, ‘Poverty of Self’ certainly has its moments in terms of lyrical grit – that “the classes separate, watching as the guillotine swings line” is particularly fantastic – but it mostly feels like a done-a-million-times “I’m angry at politicians and the upper class” song. Make no mistake, I do fully agree with Currents’ political takes here – eat the rich, send them to the guillotines, and so forth – but as we have learned from the latest Fit For An Autopsy album, this subject can be handled in a more poignant, mature manner.
However, there are quite a few songs that have fantastic, damned personal lyricism. The incredible intro track, which really stands out for being a simple hype-building piece, features my favorite line: “I drink so I can’t blink, and I fill my brain with holes. The place that I felt the safest was never really there at all.” Maybe I’m just a sucker for clever self-references, this one being an obvious call-back to that 2017 debut LP, but this line is extremely gut-wrenching, especially compared to the rest of this LP. Elsewhere, ‘Let Me Leave’ speaks on wanting so badly to step away from a toxic relationship, but finding it increasingly difficult as time trudges on. Lines like “I just wanted you to have a better life, to not always be shying away from your thoughts on the inside. I can set you free” really strike a chord with me. The immaculate ‘How I Fall Apart’ take on struggles with abandonment, with a somber sentiment of “now I know that I am all alone, and nobody will come to save me. This is how I fall apart, all alone with these nightmares in my head” nailing the feeling of someone you loved simply disappearing from your life altogether. It’s in these moments of Currents‘ lyricism excels.
While vocalist Brian Wille might be regarded as one of metalcore’s best up and comers, I can’t help but feel sometimes conflicted about his vocal performance on ‘The Way It Ends.’ On some songs, his tone sounds absolutely MASSIVE as he also displays impressive vocal range, but on others, he remains stagnant in his comfortable mid-range and monotonous clean vocals. Cuts like the magnificent finale ‘Better Days’ have me believing the hype surrounding Wille, as he gives a visceral and brutal performance until the songs final moments, but then he falls flat on tracks like ‘Split,’ where he comes off as no better than any other average metalcore vocalist. Wille knows damn well how to add sparks to certain sections, as heard in that stomping ‘Poverty of Self’ breakdown, but it boggles my mind how he couldn’t find a way to do this on every song. Because it sounds like he could’ve brought more to the table for all of these 11 songs.
At the end of the day, my biggest critique of ‘The Way It Ends‘ is the fact that it’s a blase; it simply doesn’t stand out in any unique way in metalcore. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this album quite a lot, but it has little to bring to the genre and the band’s own tables respectively. In terms of Currents’ discography, this sticks out like a sore thumb in its far stronger quality, but it fails to move the needle in the slightest for the genre in which it is born out of. ‘The Way It Ends’ is a by-product of the current state of metalcore, sounding like a mashup of the genre’s most popular bands, rather than its own unique identity. That’s something that has always held me back from enjoying Currents as much as others. Unfortunately, while I still believe this to be their best release so far, that overall opinion hasn’t fully shifted with this latest record. But they’re now barrelling down the right path!
Even with my own issues with the record as a whole, ‘The Way It Ends’ will make it into countless end-of-year lists within the metalcore community, and with good reason. If you are looking for a great, albeit generic metalcore experience, Currents have got your ass covered with this beefy album. ‘The Way It Ends’ is certainly an easy, enjoyable metalcore listen, never once feeling like it’s overstaying its welcome. Despite it being nothing new, this album does an extraordinary job of accomplishing what it sets out to do, and I can’t fault the band for that. Over-flowing the brim with explosive breakdowns, soaring ambiance, and powerful performances, ‘The Way It Ends’ is one solid listen. The Way It Ends’ has positioned Currents firmly upon my radar, and I look forward to whatever else the future brings them. Because this sure won’t be the end of this band’s rise, not even close.
It Was Never There
A Flag To Wave
Poverty Of Self
Kill The Ache
Let Me Leave
How I Fall Apart
‘The Way It Ends’ is out Friday, June 5th: