Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed several popular metal bands exit the scene. Some of the more popular ones have had a major influence on metal music, including Underoath and Haste The Day. Many others, from Bleeding Through to In the Midst of Lions, quietly dominated the genre and will hopefully leave some lasting impact upon the metal scene. But with these departures, we’ve also been privileged with some wonderful new bands. Last year, The Overseer and Wolves at the Gate entered the metal realm, and now this year, My Heart to Fear is the first of what should be another strong list of newcomers.
If you noticed what those three new bands have in common, it’s that they’re all signed to Solid State Records. The label has featured some of the biggest names in Christian metal over the last decade, and every year they provide a fresh onslaught of talent and passion. My Heart to Fear may not be the most trend-setting band they signed this year (that award has to go to The Ongoing Concept), but man, do these guys excel at what they do. Following up a decent-to-average EP, the quintet has tightened things up, enhancing their songwriting skills and boosting the versatility and technicality of their music. With a sound that brings to mind the complex instrumentality and guitar riffs of Oh, Sleeper and the vocal attack of August Burns Red, My Heart to Fear may not be done formulating a unique identity just yet. But with Algorithm, they may just capture the attention of fans who overlooked them as a generic addition to the metal genre.
Opener “Dust to Dust” does a superb job of captivating listeners. The orchestral intro captures a very epic vibe, and from there, the band’s instrumental skills drive the song’s immensity home. The guitars are ravaging, Trevor Pool’s low screams are energetic and pronounced and the jazz-styled bass is incredibly sexy (especially during the breakdown). Despite the song’s memorable qualities, the message is really driven home in the next track, “414 Days,” where Pool’s clean vocals defend God in a generation where it’s easy to use a higher being as a scapegoat for wrongdoing. While his screaming is very reminiscent of Jake Luhrs, his singing adds a bit of utility to the band’s musical approach.
The lyrics are blatant and powerfully written, and even with how solid the instrumentation is, they are the album’s greatest selling point. That, and the smooth incorporation of piano, strings, and more uncommon instruments like the harpsichord and flute. However, with the reputable progressions that My Heart to Fear made from their somewhat lacking EP, the album tends to have one minor flaw in the musical department: a lack of differentiation between songs. Most of the songs follow the same formula, and although they provide an adequate amount of variety, none of the songs really stand out. That’s an easy problem to overlook though, as the album has excellent flow and offers various lyrical perspectives on Christianity and the modern world. Songs like “Algorithm” and “Angst” hint at Between the Buried and Me’s compositional grandeur, and “Bottomed Out,” featuring Maitland vocalist Josh Hines, uses the track’s jumpy beat to destroy everything in its path. But at the end of the day, Algorithm is a record that uses its worldly influences and range of vibes to add thickness to their overall theme, and that’s one centered around the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
From start to finish, My Heart to Fear’s debut full-length is an energetic, ferocious, cathartic and inspiring metal album. The band may ride on its biggest influences to define their sound, but their musicianship and versatility is hardly matched in the genre today – even by the most experienced of artists. Really the only major complaint about Algorithm is that some of the songs run together, failing to stand out amongst the sea of technicality and musical mastery that this album flaunts. Besides that, though, the record is a superb metal effort that may be a strong fortune teller for the future of heavy music, and that future looks bright. Last year, Solid State created a winning formula with Wolves at the Gate and The Overseer. We may have to wait until next month to see if The Ongoing Concept completes the one-two punch begun by My Heart to Fear, but judging from the impressiveness of Algorithm, we have one heck of a metal album to keep us busy in the meantime.