Becoming Saints – “Oh, The Suffering”


becoming-saints-oh-the-suffering-2016_bbbBecoming Saints bring the metalcore in the debut full length album on Rottweiler Records.  Pummeling rhythms, emotional vocals combined with some softer elements and heavy breakdowns abound in this album.

As many bands have experienced, the Arkansas quintet Becoming Saints have roots that go back quite a few years with a relatively long hiatus before their next release.  For Becoming Saints, this includes a start in 2005 and a reunion and release of an ep, Be the End of Me, in 2013.  With the release of the ep, Becoming Saints earned spots as openers for some of the bigger metal bands and were signed by Rottweiler Records.   The band worked with producer Simon Pettiford at Darkened Studios (Smoke Signals, In Trenches, Descended from Wolves) to record For the Suffering.

Having seen the video for “Built for War” before the release of the album, I knew what I was getting into before the album arrived and the video and song do serve well to represent the band and introduce listeners to their metalcore sound.  Back in my more cynical days, the standard metalcore elements that are found throughout the album would have instantly ruined my opinion of the album, but these are characteristics of the genre and have to be heard as such.  Now that my disclaimer is out of the way…”Built for War” starts out with a near grinding, pummeling riff and some clearly understood rough shouted vocals delivered with a healthy dose of emotion.  Overall sound is the downtuned pounding rhythm one would expect and production allows the listener to almost feel the heaviness.  Predictably, there is a halt to the heaviness for some airy keyboards and a clean vocal chorus and later in the song a breakdown section that as a nice touch goes all way down to just the bass guitar at one point.  “Push and Pull” continues in the same vein until the midpoint of the song where there is an extended soft keyboard clean vocal section that dominates most of the rest of the song even when the heavy guitars and drums come back into the mix.

The band makes heavy use of the electronic and keyboard intros to songs with really only “Oath”, “One Shot”, and “Vox Mortem” starting out with the full band in high gear.  “Vox Mortem” is the one track on the album that stands out most to me as it is the one that spends the most time faster than the mid-tempo tracks that dominate the album and do tend to make the songs blend into one another.  Interestingly, “One Shot” despite the heavy opening ends up closing out as one of the softer tracks on the album with Emily Wold joining in to provide some haunting clean and then soaring female vocals  to the mix. “Mother Teresa”, “De Paso” and the closing track “Time” certainly break from the metalcore on the rest of the album and in some sense provide a bit of a respite from the general heaviness of the rest of the album.

From my perspective, this album could have been from one of many bands in the genre, there is nothing distinct about their sound that really catches my ear, not even the guest vocals from Bruce Fitzhugh (Living Sacrifice) on “Lost” as the sound seems firmly entrenched in the metalcore blend.  Some of the more interesting bands in the genre to my ears have been able to separate out the metal and hardcore elements into songs or sections of songs, which makes the overall listening experience more interesting.  That being said, and being just my opinion, there is no doubt that  Becoming Saints have definitely released a heavy, pummeling metalcore album filled with strong performances and production that allows the heaviness to clearly come through while keeping all the elements distinct in the mix, which is not a simple thing.

Rating: 7.5/10

Written by John Jackson

01. Built For War
02. Push And Pull
03. Lost
04. Oath
05. Mother Teresa
06. Vox Mortem
07. Unbroken
08. This Heart Yours
09. De Paso
10. My Fall Your Gain
11. One Shot
12. Time

Band Members
Drew Garrison – Vocals
Allen Robson – Guitar
Kory Olson – Guitar/Vocals
Jeff Bowie – Bass
Jake Evans – Drums

Record Label: Rottweiler Records, Oct. 2016

Weblinks: Bandcamp / Facebook / iTunes / Noisetrade

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video for ‘Built for War’

Lyric video for ‘Lost’


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