Saturday, 19 August 2017

Album Review: CURRENTS – The Place I Feel Safest

CurrentsConnecticut 5-piece Currents debut full-length The Place I Feel Safest comes out this Friday, the result of 6 years of hard work, shifting lineups, and dogged perseverance. So how does the fruit of this labor sound?

Opening track “Apnea” starts big, mixing discordant chugging and an eerie lead run with huge string samples and mid-range hardcore screams. It’s played competently, but the odd structure leaves it without a real hook, and the shift into a sparser, chuggier song doesn’t do it any favors. “Tremor” swirls around an unpredictable djent riff, with lead runs reminiscent of Within The Ruins added for effect. The band pull back a little before exploding in a huge chorus, with gang-vocal cleans backed up by distant screams. “Night Terrors” is traditional metalcore through and through, but does it well (the repeated shouts about burning “it” down are especially cliché and especially badass). “Delusion” switches up the verse/chorus structure, with sung verses and a screamed chorus that highlights the band’s obvious love of August Burns Red, even if it does sound derivative. Jeff Brown’s drumming is noteworthy here, beefing up the lead riff with a few clever snare hits on the upbeat.

Withered” finds Currents splicing some whammy bar into an already nasty djent riff, and the chorus has some serious bounce, although the verses are fairly dull. Vocalist Brian Wille roars out “Dreamer” with a rapid, borderline rap-metal delivery, but the song is smothered by a vanilla chorus that goes nowhere. “Forget Me” has some great verses, with another high energy ABR-inspired riff and some punky drumming, but the chorus still sounds like pretty much every chorus before it, if a bit more passionate, and it drags on too long to keep the momentum going. The title track likewise is indistinguishable from other songs on the album, going through the motions with aplomb, but failing to connect. “Silence” has another great choppy vocal rhythm from Wille, and the chorus features a more punk clean vocal that is a welcome change, but it still suffers from “more of the same” musically.

Best Memory” starts off promising with an almost industrial riff, and a nice back-and-forth contrast between cleans and screams on the verses. The chorus is just weak, though, and even some head-banging djent and a wild guitar solo can’t bring the song back from that. “Another Life” is half of a great song, with a prominent technical guitar lead and some top-notch deep screams in the bridge, but very little else about the song stands out. “I’m Not Waiting” also struggles to find its footing, aside from a fun two-step post-chorus that highlights the band’s punkier side again. Closing track “Shattered” hits a lot of the same styles and influences the band visits throughout the album, without ever really finding any piece to latch onto, making it hard to recall any part of the song once it’s finished.

Metalcore is a crowded genre, both in terms of the astronomical number of bands, and the sub-genres that spawn from it. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for new acts to stand out from their peers and influences. Currents play their hearts out on The Place I Feel Safest, and at times they manage to impress, especially when indulging their tendency towards emotive melodic hardcore. They struggle when trying to force a melodic chorus hook, however, and are hit-and-miss when it comes to locking into a groove. Come for the passion, stay for the (albeit derivative) technical riffs, just don’t expect much staying power from The Place I Feel Safest.

About Randy Shatkowski

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