Heart Of A Coward
2nd October 2015 - Century Media Records
A little under two years ago, Milton Keynes bruisers Heart Of A Coward showed that they were starting to mean serious business with second album Severance. Whilst the record was not without its flaws, it nevertheless showcased a combination of potential and a strong work ethic, alongside a collection of properly crushing riffs. That commitment to the cause had remained strongly evident since Severance’s release, with the band continuing to work tirelessly, playing ever more commanding shows, like this year’s headline Tech Fest set, and writing third album Deliverance.
An early indication that Heart Of A Coward have become, if anything, even more ferocious in the interim came in the form of lead single “Hollow“, which also opens proceedings here on Deliverance. Let’s be very clear: the track is an absolute triumph, featuring piledriving riff after piledriving riff in a display of brutal efficiency. Already a towering presence in their live set list, it is a strong candidate for the best Heart Of A Coward song to date. The unfortunate side effect of “Hollow” being both the first and best track, though, is that the first spin through Deliverance does feel like just a bit of an anti-climax.
Never fear, though, that feeling does not last for long. After that initial listen, it quickly becomes apparent that Deliverance is at least as big a step up as Severance was from Hope & Hindrance. Retaining the muscular riffing and brawny grooves that had already become their trademark, Heart Of A Coward have fleshed out their sound into a more rounded, complete proposition. Fundamentally, if Severance sounded like the product of an intensive bench-press routine, then Deliverance shows the benefits of not skipping leg day.
Perhaps the clearest indication of the continuing maturation process is that the tracklist contains two pairs of tracks, “Turmoil” and “Skeletal“, both of which share motifs with their counterparts, with different interpretations. It’s a neat trick, and one that certainly helps to lift them clear of the standard brainless beatdown fare. “Skeletal II -.Arise” even features some piano – gasp – but never fear; “Turmoil I – Wolves” still has CIRCLE PIT stamped on it in letters a mile high.
Elsewhere, the tracks occupy a middle ground between the machismo of metalcore and the slightly more subtle flourishes of progressive metal. Open-string djenty crunch provides the punctuation for some deftly, but not overtly, technical riffs and lip-curl inducing grooves. Vocalist Jamie spends more time singing cleanly than he has in the past, with his noticeably increased range blesses a number of tracks – the title track especially – with towering, hooky choruses.
Ultimately, all of this progress leaves Heart Of A Coward sounding like Monuments‘ sportier, more aggressive younger brother – and this is no bad thing. There are plenty of clever little twists throughout Deliverance, but it has obviously been written primarily for the pit. Some of the lyrics may still feel just a little corny when heard through headphones, but they’re sure to make a lot more sense when bellowed back at the stage by a sweaty, seething mass of bodies – not to mention ideal for those moments when life makes you want to throw out your arms, fling back your head and shout “FUCK” at the sky.
It is definitely rare that a single album can provide enough to keep the tech-heads happily stroking their beards, and the core kids merrily spinning their kicks, but Heart Of A Coward seem to have managed it here. They’ve obviously put in the work and the road miles, and now those sparks of potential seen in previous releases have kindled into a raging inferno. For a no-nonsense slice of high quality modern metal, there’s little need to look much further than Deliverance for your latest fix. Buy it, love it, and learn the gang chants for when they come and play near you, which they will almost certainly be doing very soon.
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