As the current boom in trend defying metallic creativity flourishes in the UK, despite eluding any major mainstream attention, it’s certainly fair to say that a handful of haughty flag bearers are sprinting ahead of the pack, set to establish themselves at the forefront of our fair isles burgeoning scene. With game changers Bury Tomorrow and While She Sleeps poised to drop make or break follow-ups in the coming months, Heart Of A Coward have laid down a rather herculean benchmark with the scene squashing ‘Severance’.
Opening with the suitably named ‘Monstro’, it’s immediately apparent that the Milton Keynes based five-piece have tempered none of their wide-eyed heavioustiy, the track a veritable feast of stomping instrumentation and gale force aggression. Predictably, the guitar sound here is colossal, the riffs lunging with a skyscraper leveling weight and, such as in the case of a mammoth ‘Psychophant’ and the monstrous, blood spitting blitzkrieg of lead single ‘Deadweight’, all the juddering groove and mechanical bite we could hope for the band to muster.
‘Severance’ is much more than one dimensional exercise in skull flattening chug however, and indeed, for all the brute force violence which leaps and bounds throughout the record, it’s Heart Of A Coward‘s blueprint of ebb and flow dynamics which proves to set them apart.
Welcomely, ‘Distance’ calls to mind prime Deftones with its throbbing melodicisms and off kilter melancholy, ‘Desensitise’ following suit with ethereal atmospherics making way for lashing of rhythmic clout. It’s perhaps the powerhouse performance of Jamie Graham which really provides the band’s ace in the hole here, though. From the chest beating muscularity of ‘Mirrors’ and a rollicking ‘Naseum’, through to some simply jaw dropping clean refrains (‘Prey’, ‘Severence’), his is a delivery which is not only richly emotive and manically forthright, yet serves as a lesson in weaving hooks under the skin without the need for overwrought cloying.
With all too many up-and-comers seeming to flounder when it comes to sophomore releases, Heart Of A Coward have proved to demolish an already stunning debut in ‘Hope And Hindrance’, turning in a masterclass of modern extremity and essential songwriting expertise. As abrasive as anyone in the game yet ensuring not to neuter their sound with tunnel vision brutality, ‘Severance’ lays down the gauntlet at the climax of a 2013 which has seen the band go from strength-to-strength. Scaling this peak could prove an insurmountable challenge for their contemporaries.
Written by Tony Bliss