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Let’s be honest, Beartooth haven’t been the same since their debut, Disgusting. Aggressive was a sad attempt at trying to appeal to a wider audience with more universal lyrics and the millennial “woah” that you hear everywhere on the radio. However, I can genuinely say that Aggressive wasn’t a bad album, and there are plenty of harmless, awesome tracks on it. "Rock Is Dead," "Burnout," and "Sick of Me" come to mind, but the singles were easily the worst tracks to come out of that album, including the title track. "Loser" and "Hated" are Beartooth’s worst songs in my opinion. Even though it was just a watered down version of Beartooth, Caleb proved that changing commercially couldn’t take away from him writing a kick-ass album.
All this being said, I absolutely adore the Disgusting album, and none of their other material can even touch it. It was raw, real, and came from a very personal place in Caleb’s life. When you put all these things together along with his songwriting talent and ear for a catchy hook, you get some great punk-rock with metal elements. When they started to turn to a sound that was more commercial friendly, Beartooth lost their uniqueness that set them apart from everyone else. The reason they got big in the first place was because Caleb experimented with time signatures and crazy fast, intricate riffs that just make you want to punch everything.
Disease is another attempt by Caleb Shomo to appeal to the widest common denominator with even less interesting lyrics. His voice seems very pitchy, and the hooks are not even that catchy. However, Caleb had returned to his sick riffing format, keeping his verses and bridges as kickin’ as ever. Let’s take a look at this album track by track and break down what works and what doesn’t.
1. "Greatness or Death"
First impressions on the first track and the album in general wasn’t looking too hot at first with the intro to this track. But if you can wait a couple seconds after the pitchy vocals and clean guitar, you’ll be delightfully surprised by some heavy riffs and stomp worthy verses. Although the chorus isn’t anything fantastic, and the lyrics aren’t as interesting as Shomo’s previous works, it’s all made up for with the sick breakdown and outro.
I’m sorry to say that the title track is one of the weakest songs on this whole project. Mostly because of the weak riffs or lack thereof. It was mostly just rhythm chords, which is fine but when I listen to Beartooth I expect some dope riffs. This song is emo as hell, and was a huge bummer after experiencing the epic outro to the track right before it. There’s a lack of aggression to this track and the melody stays pretty much exactly the same from the verse, to the chorus, and the bridge.
Three songs in and we finally get a song that is solid from beginning to end. On "Fire," Caleb really starts to wear his inspirations on his sleeve. The riff is reminiscent of AC/DC’s heavier rock tracks, and the verse can be compared to the works of Motörhead with the distorted bass and drums taking the reigns with the crazy vocals. Shomo is giving it all on this track and it shows in his vocal performance. Despite the cheesy lyrics, the track is a crazy experience all the way through.
4. "You Never Know"
Any excitement you just got from the previous song is completely thrown away after listening to this mess of a tune. The beginning sets it up to be this aggressive song and it only builds up to the chorus being repeated about five times. The chorus does not stick well in your head, it just annoys you. It’s so glittery and happy that it could be the melody to a top 40 Pop tune.
5. "Bad Listener"
What can I say about this song besides that it’s easily the best track on the whole LP. It was the only single released that got me pumped for the album when I was reluctant to try it out. It’s got everything you need from a Beartooth track. The aggressive vocals, the sick riffs, the epic drums, it just reeks testosterone in the best way possible. The lyrics aren’t great, but you don’t even notice because your head is banging at 12,000 beats per minute.
It sounds exactly like Disease except with more dissonance and less scream vocals. Nothing else to this track.
I’ll admit, this track had some sick opening guitar riffs, the guitar was just mixed too quiet in the intro. When the pumpin riff is too quiet, it’s hard to be pumped. However, the verse did not let me down. Beartooth, in my opinion, have always been great at writing verses and bridges. It’s the turning point in which I can change my opinion on a song completely because of it. This is all let down of course by yet another weak chorus on Caleb’s part. The breakdown isn’t even that cool, leaving us hanging after hearing such an awesome verse and build up.
Two words: hell yes! This is another track that shows Caleb’s inspirations through some 80s metal homage in the intro, bridge, and lead guitar. The drums rule, the chorus is great, it’s just an overall fantastic track.
Pretty much what you would expect from a song called "Believe." It’s got the millenial woahs with a melody and vocal performance that’s far too Pop to come from a band called Beartooth.
The verse hook sucks. The pre-chorus hook is cool, but it only builds up to disappointment with the chorus. It does have cool drum performances, but the verses sound like a bad Beartooth impersonation.
11. "Used and Abused"
This track has a brutal intro with an intricate riff that melts your face off. The rest of the song is good, the chorus isn’t terrible, it’s an okay track. It’s nothing that I would personally seek to listen to again, but objectively I have to say it’s a good song.
This songs sucks. Everything about it is awful. The awful lyrics, the sugary sweet hook, it sounds absolutely nothing like Beartooth. In fact, it sounds exactly like a track that would be released by Paramore. It was a very weak way to end the album.
Overall, I would give this album a 6/10. There is some fantastic tracks on here that only further cement why I love Beartooth. However, the bad definitely outweigh the good here. Disgusting was amazing, Aggressive was great, but Disease has to go down as their worst album thus far. Despite that, Beartooth will always have my support, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the future.