It breaks my heart knowing that every time Beartooth releases new material, there is a sizeable group of people who will never bother to check it out due to a deep resentment for vocalist Caleb Shomo’s previous endeavor, Attack Attack!.While I agree that Attack Attack! was mostly an atrocity, I cannot deny the fact that Shomo is a fantastic vocalist. His vocals and songwriting skills have both improved immensely over the past two years, and he demonstrates this best through Beartooth’s debut album Disgusting.
Beartooth’s sound can be best described as a mix between metalcore and hard rock, while also paying homage to old school hardcore. Shomo took the heavy side of Attack Attack!, improved it tenfold, and dropped the cheesy synth and lyrics – you now have Beartooth. This may or may not be your album of the year, but either way, it’s far better than what one would expect of Caleb Shomo (I should probably mention that he wrote, performed, and produced this record himself).
If there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that there is relentless energy flowing through each track on this album. From the start of the opening track, “The Lines”, you can sense the arrival of an impending storm that will probably tear down anything in its path. In essence, that is what Disgusting is -a raw, emotional, and pulverizing storm of music. Shomo’s vocal capacities carry this album even when the instruments seem to be dragging along, and the combination of crystal clear quality and beefy guitar tones certainly makes the ride more enjoyable.
After listening to the first couple of tracks, you might start to realize that there is a lack of creativity here. The songs all start to blend together as the formula becomes exhausted, and it hits rock bottom with three consecutive lackluster songs in the back half of the album. “One More” boasts one of the silliest choruses the band has written, “Me In My Own Head” has little to no memorable qualities, and “Keep Your American Dream” quickly becomes repetitive and tiresome. The most frustrating aspect of Beartooth’s songwriting formula is that you can guarantee that each song title will appear in the chorus, and each chorus is repeated about three times in every song. Shomo also likes to repeat lines of lyrics over and over again, which I found to be a bit irritating. For example, “Go ahead and keep it/Go ahead and keep it/Go ahead and keep your American dream” and “One life, one decision/One life, one decision/One life, one decision/Make sure it ends with you still living”. This kind of predictability strips away a lot of the excitement from listening to this album and makes you wish they had tried to take a different path here and there.
Well, fortunately, things do change in the final two tracks. “Dead” is a fast-paced beast of a song clocking at just over two minutes, and is followed up by the most haunting song on the record. “Sick and Disgusting” is more of a personal cry for help and admission of guilt than it is a song. On this closing track, Shomo decides to forget everything he knows about tone, pitch, and structure – and he does this in the best possible way. The intensity and passion in this song easily make up for the weaker tracks preceding it, and I’ll just leave it at that so I don’t spoil anything.
Disgusting is not a groundbreaking or genre-bending album, but it’s at least a breath of fresh air for the metalcore community and a debut that any heavy band would continue to be proud of years down the road. I would argue that Beartooth has not yet reached their full potential, but once they do, it will be clear that they are among the top tier of bands in this genre.