I like some good hardcore, get’s the blood flowing, and now being winter down in South Africa and lockdown because of covid 19 added to the mix, to have some energetic music to warm up ones blood is a welcomed retreat from it all. So when I hear the label Facedown mentioned, I sort of relate to it as Christian music’s fraternity of hardcore. So a good place for Deathbreaker to find themselves within.
The energy capsulated in ‘Isolate’ sharpens the edges of the bands hardcore roots driving a more assault driven harder approach than their ‘Disconnect’ release 3 years ago. Right from the start images of hardcore kids in the pit hardcore moshing hit my frontal lobe. Images of crowd chaos abound, guess I am going to have to move the furniture out the way to fully appreciate the aural aggression of Isolate.
As the listener you are brought to the attention of the raw characteristics of the songs, not a single song is marred by the production of the album. Like a good bottle of ketchup when poured, it has substance, and not at all a watered down interpretation of the band, the sound comes across rich and ‘live’ and rich in flavour. Those characteristics set it up nicely in the energy department.
Sure they might forgo some of the melodic tones that is associated with their more post hardcore release ‘Disconnect’ from which they have taken a giant leap away from, and maybe I was expecting some of that post hardcore melodic sound, but vocally the songs work well with the aggressive guitar rampage, and focus on a more direct assault which I feel allows for the palette of the songs in my mind to be lot easier transposed in equal levels through a live set. In short this is a great ‘live’ but not ‘live album if you get my meaning. The drums hold equal importance to the album, allowing for a really strong rhythm back bone. I have my roots in punk so I love some of the progressions into some of the faster grooves that crossover in some ways to a more hardcore punk vibe. It adds texture to the songs and allows colour to intercede where melody is lacking.
As a drummer myself first a lot of the songs on Isolate feel hinged or steered by the drums, and if you had to ask me what is the highlight or keeps the album going through out, and not allow the album to drift and harbour in areas other hardcore acts have accumulated and got lost in, I would have to say it is the drums on this release. If the guys at Daybreaker read this, do not get rid of your drummer! The drums on “The compass” are just off the hook as an example, while the drum work on a song like “Alone” transcend the confinements of the usual hardcore rhythm one expects from such a song, and is a basis of its strength and originality.
However the album is not devoid of fault and does have it moments where it loses its drive somewhat in some parts, maybe due to song placement. The songs seem to be fairly strong on their own to a large part. This album for me would have been a lot stronger in a EP format in that consideration. Album drives hard till half way and then does slip gears a little in trying to find grip again. That grip or saving grace comes in the form of the song, “The Compass”. Besides with the amount of energy exerted in the first half the album I am already exhausted the time I am introduced to the second part of the album. An old coot like me needs to sit down and take a breather, before I am hospitalized. It’s in that space that my attention waned on the album a bit and really had to focus to get through it.
That all said ‘Isolate’ is a good album, especially for those that enjoy aggressive hardcore, and a live feel recording. You are not left short changed, and for all those hardcore purveyors that enjoy to kick it up in the pit this albums abounds furiously with ample space for that. “Hollow” in all honestly is the weakest song in my mind and generic in feel to the rest. There are enough great riffs and breakdowns and tempo changes to keep any fan of hardcore music happy, and I think overall the jump from post-hardcore to this is a step in the right direction for the band. ‘Isolate’ is the perfect album for a time such as this. Filled with aggressive punches it is a great stress and frustration reliever, and is a modern day soundtrack for the hardcore mosh pit.
Written by Donovan de Necker
Favourite track’s: “Spite” and “The Compass”
1 ) Pit Viper
8) The Compass
Scott McNeil – vocals
Kevin McNeil – guitar
Elijah – bass
Release Date: 29th May 2020
Record Label: Facedown Records
“Disconnect” (2017) [review]
Video for ‘Choke’