Upon its 2013 release, Sempiternal became a landmark in modern metalcore, leading many bands to try and replicate what it did well. There isn’t an artist that has done as good of a job as Bad Omens, who configured their debut’s identity to Bring Me the Horizon’s signature blend of both the aggressive and the anthemic. The Plot in You is the next artist to follow suit — and not out of foundation-setting influence, but rather out of the need for change as scene veterans. After several albums that have shown movement away from genre trappings, they’re at their own personal Sempiternal with their fourth LP, Dispose.
As a record that’s more “Shadow Moses” than “Small Face,” it’s exciting to see the band’s long-progressing sound make a full imprint. But the shift also signals a greater focus on vocalist Landon Tewers, whose battle-tested voice and lyrics take center stage — if you told me this was the frontman’s solo project, I’d easily believe it. The approach makes a solid first impression, with “One Last Time” and “Paid in Full” finding a comfortable and invigorating middle ground between post-hardcore and metalcore. Yet, while there are several strong cuts from the 10, there’s simply not enough on this effort to keep listeners coming back.
The two aforementioned tracks are the album’s hardest-hitting songs instrumentally, reflecting Sempiternal’s energy but nonetheless feeling like The Plot in You’s typical dark and brooding self. “One Last Time” is full to the brim with grungy guitars and strings that slice and dice, and it’s supported by a big chorus that echoes the song’s title. It’s also perhaps the most reflective track on an album that’s otherwise full of rushes of emotion — after all, that’s what Tewers and the gang are known for. “Paid in Full” sticks out for the same reasons as “One Last Time,” though it’s more chant-driven and glides along instrumentally. For a slower album that hinges on the generic at times, Dispose still has its moments of awe.
There are plenty of protracted moments without any payoff, however, and the opener and closer are the main culprits. “Rigged” spends half of its runtime building up to a climax that fails to shine (fancy electronica isn’t enough to save it). It’s a different story with “Disposable Fix,” as the final track’s jazz-pop feel doesn’t seem right with decrepit lyrics and an otherwise musically somber tone sitting alongside it. I don’t fault the band for experimentation, but there’s simply too much downtime on a record that already has an interlude and multiple slow songs. One minute, you’re hit with a memorable mid-tempo banger like “The One You Loved,” and the next, you’re left wanting more out of a fringy ballad like “The Sound.”
As The Plot in You takes a turn toward Sempiternal-esque post-hardcore on Dispose, they give listeners a lot to chew on. Underneath the meaty hooks and grimy layers of instrumentation, Tewers bleeds out his thoughts in relentless and vulnerable fashion. Yet, the record is too grounded for its own good, lacking the epicness that helped Bring Me the Horizon and Bad Omens prosper. Dispose is an admirable stylistic shift and a poignant emotional journey, even if it’s not the most fulfilling set of songs the genre’s going to offer us this year.
Post-Hardcore | Fearless Records