Beartooth – Aggressive
Released: June 3rd 2016
Caleb Shomo – Vocals
Taylor Lumley – Guitar
Kamrom Bradbury – Guitar
Oshie Bichar – Bass
Beartooth are one of those bands who started out as a joke to pass the time while front-man Caleb Shomo was dealing with his crippling clinical depression years ago, from there they have evolved to the now four piece and are taking the world by storm, gaining international attention and an ever growing fanbase who are addicted to their sound and song writing. Shomo is in charge of the band’s musical writing including instruments and lyrics and it’s not hard to see this guy has been through some shit. While their first studio album Disgusting spoke about what happens when you’re in a deep dark place, overcome with the inner demons taking over your life and no signs of escape, the follow up Aggressive is what happens when you’re finally out of that state and ready to take on a new life where you’re in control of your surroundings and those influencing you.
The album starts with first single and title track “Aggressive” which wastes no time in bringing the heaviness and sets up how the rest of the album will sound. A pure messy attack on those who think they’re better than you. Having heard all the tracks now, they really hit the nail on the head for the single that’ll showcase how good this album is and why you should listen to it now. “Hated” has a slower start but brings us back a notch to their previous work, addressing the feeling you have when others choose to judge you for the way you live your life. The chorus cries out “Who knew you’d be hated for being who you are. And be a big target for all the insecure” an obvious and massive middle finger up to all the negative haters in the world and a reminder for you to stand up and be proud of yourself.
Following this motivational madness is “Loser” with a similar sound to the previous track, however it deals with themes such as alienation and being a recluse. The emotion behind Caleb’s singing in this song can be felt, but at the 2:30 mark you can tell when he changes his tone from being a victim to being in control of his situation and focusing on the fact that you’re not worthless, you’re “just a little bit different”. “Fair Weather Friend” follows and once again the anger and direction of this song is towards others who only think of themselves and want things to go their way, but you’ve had enough and want nothing to do with them. Taylor Lumley and Kamron Bradbury playing together in unison, bouncing off each other add that extra value to the song and their style compliments the lyrics and advice being thrown at you.
Not to be outdone by the previous tracks, “Burnout” sets itself up early as yet another offensive attack on your senses, this time around it explains how Caleb tries to focus on the negative aspects of his life and how he’s constantly beating himself up, in the hope of being able to write a good, honest, relatable song. On the back of that he’s working hard to get to where he is but he refuses to give up or let anyone get in his way, stating “You’ll never burn me out” quite forcefully multiple times throughout. “Sick of Me” is a reflection on ones self and the anthem for those who have reached the other side of depression or whatever their dark place was which overtook their lives and how they are taking a stand about NEVER ever going back to that place they survived. He acknowledges that he wasn’t strong with lyrics like “I’m sick of the person I used to be, so stressed out, burnt out, living in my agony” but he’s in a better place when he chants “I won’t go back, I won’t go back, I won’t go back” over and over to reassure everyone he’s fine again. Continuing on with the theme of moving forward in life “Censored” takes centre stage and offers up the first brutal break down of the album. I like to think of this one as the main “fight song” of the album because none of the others so far have had the same reaction when listening close to the words being screamed at me. Also hints of earlier Beartooth work are brought back with this one when Caleb screams “crank this music up louder” just before a break down, which to me, acts as a nod to his last pre-breakdown quote of “listen to the sound of your children revolting” featured on “Beaten in Lips” from 2012’s Disgusting. While this time around it didn’t have the same grasp as their previous instant hit, it’s strong enough to stand on it’s own, just a small notch down from that top song.
Speeding up the pace a little for “Always Dead” this quick and heavy song also adds screaming and forcefully fast instrumentals to an otherwise perfect wall of death/circle pit/brutal fuck anyone up in your close vicinity banger. If you haven’t felt the need to punch a wall b the end of this song, you’re obviously listening to it wrong. “However You Want It Said” opens with clean vocals and eases you into the tale about someone finally over the doubt and wrongful advice given to them. When you’re ready to get back on your feet and start doing things for yourself, but people are trying to convince you to stay down on the ground longer, you get angry and this song is a reflection of that. Think of it like when you’re drunk and someone is telling you to stop drinking and/or go home. You don’t want to listen to them but continue on doing things for yourself in a very serious and self aware way. A better explanation is that you’re finally over someone’s shit and you’re doing something about it. So yeah, get fucked.
Slowing it down just a touch for “Find a Way” which is a savage rock song blending unclean/yelling vocals and melodic goodness all in one. It feels to me similar once again to previous song “I Have a Problem” which to me seems like they have a formula for song writing and they’ve mastered it better than anticipated. Up next is “Rock is Dead” and my interpretation of this is a laugh in the face for those who have claimed rock music is dead. The goosebumps all over my body indicated you should listen to this one as loud as possible, especially when Caleb tells you to “turn this riff up” at the right spot again, like that friend showing you a song for the first time and making you listen to the best parts. In the past Beartooth have made a stance for staying a live and fighting for yourself but now they’re saying things like “If rock and rolls dead, you can kill me right now” indicating to me that all you have to live for in life is rock & roll, but to be honest I’m okay with that statement. If we didn’t have this heavy, threatening music to help us get through life, than where else would we turn for help and support?
Last but certainly not least is the bitterness, saddened track “King of Anything” which at 2:12 minutes long is an expression from the troubled front-man himself stating he’s not someone you should look up to, only because he’s going though his own struggles and doesn’t think he’s fit for the job as a “role model” for those to look up to. Hauntingly beautiful and the closest thing to a ballad we’ve heard so far by the guys, so it’s an instant favourite for me.
Beartooth‘s latest offering is everything the title says it is, an aggressively ferocious experience through the eyes of a man who is coming to terms with the fact the biggest battle in his life is slowly coming to an end, but it’s still not over yet… I know it’s early in the year and this is a big call to make, but I am without a doubt considering this to be 2016’s Album of the Year. In the past we’ve had bands/musicians telling you in their music to be who you are, stand proud and embrace it. These guys are the latest addition to that list of bands including Marilyn Mason, Korn and Linkin Park just to name a few and Aggressive is the soundtrack that’ll help a new wave of heavy music lovers get though school, work and life being who they are.
If their last album was about dealing with the issues plaguing your life, this new offering is what happens when you’ve been triumphant and beat almost all those obstacles in your life. A real FUCK YOU to the world and those bringing struggles to your life. – Browny
Listen to Caleb Shomo discuss the album’s conception in our interview with the front-man himself right here
Beartooth – Aggressive tracklist
4. Fair Weather Friend
6. Sick Of Me
8. Always Dead
9. However You Want It Said
10. Find A Way
11. Rock Is Dead
12. King Of Anything
“Aggressive” released Friday June 3rd. Get your copy here
Until next time, rock the fuck out