Some record labels become synonymous with quality. They build a back catalogue so strong that, when they put something new out, you trust that it will hit the spot. Think Roadrunner Records in the 1990s.
Fast forward to 2019 and that trusted label is Holy Roar Records. The briefest of glances at recent albums of the year lists will almost certainly reveal a plethora of their bands and they’re now at the stage where every new release is much anticipated.
Holy Roar doesn’t just stand for quality. It stands for heavy, it stands for interesting, and it stands for boundary-pushing.
Which is why, perhaps, Holy Roar putting out a metalcore record is something of a head-turner. Seriously, metalcore? But fear not, friends. Your favourite label isn’t letting you down any time soon.
The metalcore record in question is Beauty Is A Destructive Angel by London’s Renounced. It’s a record that harkens back the metalcore sound of the early 2000s, before it had become the soulless, auto-tuned cash-grab it is today. This is a record full of metal, full of hardcore and full of heart.
You know where you are with Renounced from the moment the first track proper – ‘Self Inflicted’ – kicks in; big riffs, swelling choruses and a full-throttle vocal performance. It’s like Killswitch Engage when Killswitch Engage were relevant, and it’s an absolute riot.
What’s really admirable about Renounced is their refusal to hide their influences. Clearly, the New Wave of American Heavy Metal that swept the heavy music scene from 2002-2005 took hold of this band and got stuck in their heads.
In 2019, that’s hardly the coolest scene to nod to, but Renounced don’t seem to care. And, when they end up writing riffs and hooks as big as they do, why should they?
‘In A Years Turning’, ‘Calloused’ and ‘Calculated Risk’ all have riffs for days that give you plenty on first listen. But, you get even more on repeat listens – the chaos of Ithaca, the swagger of Knocked Loose and the melody of We Never Learned To Live. This isn’t just a throwback record, it’s something that takes the best bits of metalcore and makes them work for today.
‘Torchbearer’ is a real highlight of the album with its relentless, choke-hold midsection, while the title track does the same rumbling, melodic hardcore thing in its verses that Svalbard seem to have mastered.
Basically, if you like riffs, beatdowns and stomp, Renounced have plenty to offer.
This might not be the best thing Holy Roar puts out this year but it’s certainly no black mark against their name. It’s good, and it gets better with each listen.
And it’s a reminder that metalcore still has some life left in it. If you’ve got a problem with that then we probably can’t be friends.
Beauty Is A Destructive Angel will be released on 27th September on Holy Roar Records.