Counterparts – A Eulogy For Those Still Here
Released: October 7th, 2022
Brendan Murphy // Vocals
Alex Re // Guitar/Backing Vocals
Jesse Doreen // Guitar
Tyler Williams // Bass
Kyle Brownlee // Drums
Known for their depressingly unhinged lyricism and their immensely aggressive sounds, Canadian hardcore group Counterparts, are now fifteen years and seven albums deep into their career and it truly feels like this band is still only just getting warmed up. It’s not all too often that an album’s title catches your attention straight away as this has for me. Similarly to past Counterparts records, this new release focuses on issues that affect us all at some point in our lives, particularly grief and loss.
Kicking off this release is ‘7:26:2020’ which, if you have followed vocalist Brendan Murphy on social media closely enough, you would realize that this is was the date which his much-loved cat, Kuma (who sadly passed away recently), came into his life. The 38-second long track is nothing but ambient sounds that seemingly put me in the mind frame to take in every aspect of the album that I’m about to dive into.
‘Whispers Of Your Death’ kinda/sorta carries on where the band’s previous album Nothing Left To Love left off. Guitarists Alex Re and Jesse Doreen, who haven’t featured on a new album together since 2013’s The Difference Between Hell and Home, have bonded together again with ease which brings together a sense of completeness from the strings section. The entire song eludes to a big breakdown towards the end that goes in hand with lyrics such as ‘It’s hard to breathe without you sleeping on my chest / Sick and withering from the whispers of your death / Forever your saviour, as much as you are mine / And for that I promise to protect you until the day I die / Make your cancer mine’ which definitely brought a tear to my eyes as I clutched my pet cat for a big cuddle…while she wants no part of it.
Keeping the momentum high while the guitars remained tuned low, ‘Bound To The Burn’ includes some interesting dynamics such as two-step drum fills and catchy clean vocals courtesy of Murphy which seem to mesh nicely with the layered guitars, rather than on top of them. First single of this album to be released, ‘Unwavering Vow’ sees blast beats and jarring guitar riffs cohesively mesh together to bring this one to life. Lyrics such as “In dreams I watched you die / Now I can’t wait to close my eyes” hints at a growing resentment toward someone that Brendan had previously forgiven.
Title track ‘A Eulogy For Those Still Here’ stands out as one of the album’s strongest tracks. Layered with clean and unclean vocals coupled together, to add a huge melodic, sing-along moment that sees this band flourish in a dynamic that isn’t often explored by them. This is a strong example of just how much this class act has matured over the years. I’m captivated and sitting on the edge of my seat as I wait in anticipation to see what the rest of the album holds as we transition into ‘Skin Beneath A Scar’. The album changes pace at this point and the opening vocals for this song strongly remind me of the beginning of their last album’s title track, however, the similarities fade the further the song continues. A grand chorus ensues where Murphy prospers in the limelight with his largely projected clean vocals being another momentous sing-along section.
Lacking in uniqueness, ‘Sworn To Silence’ feels a bit stale in creativity, as if it was written and put on the album just for the sake of creating an ‘album filler’. Murphy’s raspy vocals pack a punch so it definitely deserves at least one listen. ‘What Mirrors Might Reflect’ begins with an alluring guitar riff that carries through into the chorus. Deeply haunting lyrics such as “No amount of love will free me from my flaws / Perfection fits its noose around my neck / No amount of love will free me from my flaws / Or shield me from what mirrors might reflect” and “Dissection of self: I ache to be anyone else” gives insight into how Murphy may view himself. Closing the song in a dark place is the repeated lyric “I see no good in me”.
Soft, slow and melodic guitar rhythms take us into ‘Soil II’. Murphy’s bold unclean vocals are at the heart of the build up where we are met at a crescendo by chugging guitars that make bopping your head impossible. Impressive drum fills lead this song out until we are met with soaring melodies in ‘Flesh To Fill Your Wounds’. Technical guitar riffs explode, converting this tune from black and white to technicolour. Brendan further explores his self-distain with lyrics such as “Why did you bring me back to life? I don’t deserve to be alive”. Final track ‘A Mass Grave Of Saints’ takes this album to completion, providing an encapsulation of all the songs that came prior. It is as dynamic as it is heavy which makes it nothing short of a memorable final track for the lads.
This album is Counterparts experiencing the natural process of progression that any band endures while they stay true to their melodic roots. Vocalist Brendan Murphy stays close to his usual writing influences with dark-styled lyricism from beginning to end, which is exactly what I love most about this band.
Counterparts – A Eulogy For Those Still Here tracklisting
2. Whispers Of Your Death
3. Bound To The Burn
4. Unwavering Vow
5. A Eulogy For Those Still Here
6. Skin Beneath A Scar
7. Sworn To Silence
8. What Mirrors Might Reflect
9. Soil II
10. Flesh To Fill Your Wounds
11. A Mass Grave Of Saints
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