ALBUM REVIEW: "Chapters" By Lycanthrope
Metalcore/Released Feb 16, 2018
Pure melodic metalcore is a genre that's seemingly been waning recently. In the early to mid 2000's the genre was unstoppable with many bands achieving chart success and high album sales. It became metal's new "it" genre and effectively replaced nu-metal as the most popular subset of metal. Similar to many trends however the genre began to wane in popularity due to over saturation by copycat bands, downloads and streaming killing record sales, established acts moving away from the genre, and djent bands like Periphery and Volumes shifting metalcore into a new direction. Metalcore inspired by melodeath and traditional metal was seemingly left to legacy bands like Killswitch Engage and Bullet For My Valentine. But Australia's Lycanthrope is looking to bring back the style that introduced so many to heavy metal.
Hailing from Newcastle, New South Wales, Lycanthrope was founded in 2011 and have shared the stage with the likes of Northlane, Aversions Crown, and Like Moths To Flames. They released the EPs Limitless and Revival in 2012 and 2015 respectively to much praise. The newly released Chapters marks the band's full length debut.
Lycanthrope employs a crushing triple guitar attack which allows the band to utilize twin harmonies without losing any low-end power. As well as double down on the heavy in their breakdowns. The melodic and technical guitar leads are well balanced with creative, hardcore-influenced chug rhythms. Lain atop the layered instrumentation are the powerful vocals of Daniel Greig. His intelligible and dynamic screaming style is well balanced with powerful, baritone melodic singing that brings to mind the likes of Howard Jones and Brian Fair.
The ten track album begins with three barn burners in "Wings", "Skin & Bones", and "Gambit". These tracks are high tempo, blistering metalcore songs that put the band's technical ability on full display. "Skin & Bones" is a particular high point that shows the band's affinity for lyrical positivity and infectious hooks in their choruses. The title track leans more in a melodeath direction and displays a talent for traditional, melodic metal guitar work.
Following the quality halfway mark in "Like A Ghost" I found myself wanting to see another side of Lycanthrope beyond the high speed, high intensity material they'd delivered for the first five tracks. And the band delivered in the surprise track "Follow My Name". A ballad that greets you with acoustic guitars and allows Greig to display the full range of his singing voice. The track eventually swells with electric instrumentation and percussion giving a strong end to the power ballad.
The second half of Chapters might be more entertaining than the first. While the first half was focused on gripping heaviness and technical skill, the latter half experiments more with tempo changes and song structures displaying just how diverse Lycanthrope's sound can be. "Paths Divided" have song sections that flow in and out of each other with grace and a breakdown that utilizes the song's chorus in a creative manner. Closing track "X VII" features a guest vocalist on the chorus, keys, and a string section giving the song an epic feel to close out the album.
Chapters is an excellent record that breathes new life into melodic metalcore and serves as a reminder to why the style became so popular in the first place. Australia has proven to be a hot bed for top tier metalcore and deathcore acts and with Chapters Lycanthrope makes a strong case to have their name in the same breaths as Parkway Drive and Northlane.