Haste The Day – Coward Review

Haste The Day – Coward – 2015

Production: 7.0 – The rawness compliments at times, but damages in others.

Songwriting: 7.5 – Practically two different bands, so style differs from song to song.

Muscianship: 8.0 – Growls, High screams, double bass, riffs, breakdowns, HTD does it all right.

Overall: 7.5

coward_by_haste_the_day

This year saw the return of metalcore giants Haste The Day. The 9-piece, yes you heard right, 9-piece band put out their first album in 5 years. The result of the long hiatus is a mixed bag with good highs and seldom lows.

The reason Haste The Day features 9 members on Coward, is that it’s essentially two bands on the record. Haste The Day lost their first vocalist/screamer Jimmy Ryan after two albums. Stephen Keech took over for three more albums before the band disbanded. Now Haste The Day is back with a joint effort of all members, past and present and created a 100% true-to-form HTD record.

Since most fans of the band are forever split on favoring the first or latter band lineup, the album will be a toss-up for some.

The very first thing that is apparent and oh so obvious is the peculiar production of Coward. It’s reminiscent of Underoath’s Lost In The Sound Of Separation. It’s raw, busy and dirty. However, a downside of the production is that the vocals get lost multiple times throughout the album. The drums are the toughest pill to swallow. They are huge, reverby, yet compressed at the same time. As a drummer myself I would expect to love it, but it takes away from the rest of the music. Coward took many plays before I ended up actually appreciating most of the production even though it is flawed.

For the most part, Stephen Keech and Jimmy Ryan take over an entire song by themselves, but there are a few songs where they join together. Keech kicks off Coward with “Begin.” It’s an infectious riff that had my interest from the first ten seconds. However Keech’s yelling halfway through the song can be a bit off-putting.

“Take” – the second track is the first featuring Ryan. It’s a disappointing initial return for the original HTD member. It starts in an angry feel and when the vocals kick in, it has an appealing sound. The downfall however comes with the chorus. The gang vocals that are the entirety of the chorus don’t mix at all with the raw production and come off as too much and takes the listener out of the song. On top of that, the chorus sounds like it belongs to a different song as the verses don’t mesh well.

“World” is where the first shiner really is. The newer HTD lineup takes their time building the song up from a lone guitar to a boomy drum beat in the back. The feel of the song comes off as inspiring and mosh worthy. It’s a fist raiser, and scream-in-your-car kind of song. It features the first breakdown on the album that caught my attention. Where  “Take” failed in regards to clean vocals, “World” succeeded. Each section of the song compliments the next.

“Coward” and “Lost” also solely feature Keech on the screams and are strong songs giving the middle section of the album strength and power. “Reconcile” is different and I still don’t entirely know how I feel about it. The first two minutes is just guitar and drums with an echo-filled speech from C.S Lewis. It’s nearly impossible to understand anything that’s being said. When the speech is over, the transition into the second half the song isn’t smooth. It seems like two halves of a song that don’t belong with each other.

Next is “Shadow” and Jimmy Ryan finally showcases the brutality he can bring to a song. With the opening words being, “I will take you where your shadow cannot go.” For safety reasons, it’s not recommended to listen to at high volumes while driving…as it causes intense speeding. “Shadow” is the first time both Keech and Ryan are joined for a song – at least significantly enough to notice. Even though they are drastically different singers in sound and in their style of metal, they mix nicely and create one of the best songs on the album.

They are also joined for the following song – “Fail” however it’s the clean vocals in the chorus that give the song the power to be remembered.

“Accept” is an immediate fan favorite. It is in every way reminiscent of classic Haste The Day. Ryan delivers his best performance on the album. The tail-end gives a vicious breakdown with melodic clean guitars and Ryan screaming over “Have I gone too far from you?”

“Gnaw” sees the album to an end. It’s a decent closer that only becomes memorable in the last moments when the riff slows down. It’s only fitting that the heaviest moment on the album, is the last seconds.

Coward is a good album. The best part about the album is also the worst. Since all members are on the record, it’s the best of both worlds, but for the sake of the flow of the album, it’s disjointed and strange at times. If taken on a song by song basis, the album is a great one, and if it ends up being the final album from the boys in Indiana, it’s an ending I was happy to hear.

The lacking originality in the metalcore genre could take a few lessons from Haste The Day as they have shown again why they are one of top bands in it.

 

Release Date: May 18, 2015

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Begin
  2. Take
  3. World
  4. Coward
  5. Lost
  6. Reconcile
  7. Shadow
  8. Fail
  9. Accept
  10. Secret
  11. Gnaw

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