Bands who refuse to change often let their stubbornness hold them back. But some artists are so good at their craft that the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ultimately applies to them. Gideon falls into the second group, as they’ve become complacent in their take-no-prisoners approach to hardcore — and in the best way possible. By enhancing their punch strength while keeping their sound the same, they’ve gone from The Ghost Inside-lite to scene standout in a little over five years. On their newest half-hour romp, Cold, the band once again bears the fruit of such an approach.
Gideon’s journey to album number four wasn’t without difficulty, nor would the results have been as potent. After multiple gear robberies, personal issues, and a wrecked van, they took the meaning of their 2014 full-length, Calloused, to heart. By allowing hardships to strengthen them in the long run, they’ve developed immensely in the past three years — and they combine into a rugged and indestructible sheet of armor on the follow-up. While Cold comes from a fresh place (e.g. a new label in Equal Vision Records), it doesn’t sound much different than its predecessor. But despite a been-there-done-that vibe at times, a comparison of the two records finds the new release stronger in many places.
The first two songs act as the best indicators of this. “Champions” leads things off with tightly packed riffs and an early breakdown to set a sinister tone. The track is vintage Gideon, with vocalist Daniel McWhorter growling like he’s fighting for his life in front of furious melodic hardcore. Here, the continued theme of overcoming obstacles — especially relevant to the members as of late — comes across better than ever. The band digs even deeper into their no-frills mentality on “Cursed”, where guest vocalist Bryan Garris (Knocked Loose) trades lines with McWhorter and concocts the record’s most memorable moment.
But sometimes the band’s straightforwardness turns to staleness. Though another guest, Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, delivers his brutish attack in “Freedom”, the complementing instrumentation reminds too much of “Expose” for it to flourish. Fortunately, though, the group saves most of their outside-the-box material for the album’s second half. “The Game” finds them going nuclear, with aggressive and soaring guitars detonating in a thunderous ruckus. Like previous efforts, an ambient instrumental interlude calms the storm. That’s before it picks up again in “Watch Me Sink”, where the fourpiece seamlessly transitions between technical guitar flashes and big clean choruses. The roller coaster ride then continues through “Walk Alone”, a song that brings percussive touches and layers of melody to the table.
Gideon gives fans what they’ve always gotten with Cold: motivational hardcore mosh anthems that pummel and persist. The record’s biggest negative is that it’s a bit too repetitive and treads similar ground fairly often. But the band performs with enough power and finesse that it’s easy to overlook. By fine-tuning their writing, inviting a few guest spots, and turning up the heat in just the right spots, Gideon makes Cold another quality melodic hardcore offering.
Melodic Hardcore | Equal Vision Records