Boy Becomes Hero – Escape Artist
Release date: 25 September 2020
Andrew Brittingham // Unclean Vocals
Jonathan Gering // Programming, Synth
Concept album buffs, come right in – this one’s for you, especially if you like breakdowns. Jonathan Gering of the almighty outfit The Devil Wears Prada joins Andrew Brittingham for their second LP Escape Artist. Garret Rapp of The Color Morale also features regularly. The record is their sophomore to Reverie, but a narratively prequel to it, and according to critics, a much darker metalcore album too; let’s take a look at it, musically.
The LP commences with an ominous intro to ‘Efficacy’ until Brittingham bursts into the track with his deepest roar, across instrumentation not too dissimilar to that of The Devil Wears Prada. The creepy verse marries up with the chorus with similar bridges to that of Brittingham’s primary roots (above, branches below) as well. This opener, along with the second track ‘Flexibility’ combine post-hardcore components with a consistent progressive-metal presence, a welcoming sound in conjunction with Brittingham’s scream.
‘Craftsmanship’ brings in Rapp and is immediately moodier, helping provoke the emerging story of the album. Progressive instrumental chaos ensues, and when considered with Brittingham’s signature echo gutturals, it’s a mixture of a new sound for Prada fans, but also a sliver of the band’s Zombie EP sound. Loving the low tuning, and perpetual anxiety the song encapsulates. Of course, it’s Rapp’s soothing cleans that facilitates equilibrium on songs like this.
This apocalyptic carnage ceases into ‘Collapse’, a mellow instrumental that feels like a bookmark or chapter divider within sections of this LP. The calm doesn’t last long though as ‘Consciousness’ is heavier and even more ominous than what we’ve heard so far. The rhythmic riffs are cast alongside Brittingham’s raw screams and Rapp’s returning cleans, but this time with less of a balancing role. There’s something beautiful about this audio traffic, in the way it’s been carefully crafted to embody the characters’ feelings.
‘Interdependence’ feels like a panic attack. The Miss May I-esque instrumental, gets you ready for a head-bang, but stops you in your tracks as the crescendo is prolonged and delayed, as the mathcore elements take over, with Brittingham and Rapp both ensuing chaotic vocals. The prog-metal instrumentation has shifted for tracks like this, and more of an eerie metalcore twist – but at the same time, feels only moments away from a djent-section. The track changes direction mid-way as Rapp’s cleaner verses kick in with an ocean-infused sound from Gering.
Boy Becomes Hero released ‘Abscond’ as a single ahead of the LP release; a track to showcase that mysterious ocean-infused rhythm-section, taking you to the imagery of the album cover. There are some really nice electronic components in this instrumental, making it an interesting track to release, leaving listeners curious for what lies ahead.
The back-end of Escape Artist is led by ‘Restitution’ where Rapp takes the lead vocally, in a song that simply feels ‘big’. I really like the post-hardcore elements of this song as the crunchy prog-guitars scratch behind the vocal harmonies. Brittingham really takes a back-seat on this track, and supplements the growing crescendo created by his vocal counterpart.
MAJOR TDWP vibes catch you in your tracks on ‘Clouds as Mountains’ which is really nice, as they are probably a big reason you listened to this record. Vocalist Ranadi features on this number with various angelic interludes, as Brittingham simply purges across this embodiment of savage seas. Ranadi’s feature adds a real X-factor to this record, as she leans into the lyrics and creates another chapter separation to this story, leaving the final track for us to decipher.
Short-track ‘Confluence’ is reminiscent of ‘Abscond’, and Gering drags in so many amazing experimental elements to this instrumental. The well-considered fractions that even contain keys, are a smooth continuation from the previous song, and changes the mood of the album so rapidly. It’s instrumental bridges like this that really enhance the eclectic nature and closure of this record. This is a great LP to listen to with focus and attention, before appreciating as background noise to your life.
Escape Artist is out Friday. Pre-order here
Review by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90