With being one of the key driving forces behind the current hardcore revival and releasing records to critical acclaim at an alarmingly steady rate, Counterparts face scrutiny with each release.
Following on from 2017’s ‘You’re Not You Anymore’, ‘Nothing Left To Love’ sees the group streamlining their sound and yet again, providing emotionally raw lyrics that elevate each track.
Opening with the confessional and brooding ‘Love Me’, vocalist Brendan Murphy delivers impassioned vocals on top of spiralling lead lines and crunching distortion. Jumping straight into the rugged ‘Wings Of Nightmares’, guitarists Blake Hardman and Alex Re weave spinning melodies around stamping chords. Full of hardcore hallmarks and driving energy, the track fuses nostalgia and modern production with a furious undercurrent.
Whilst the record doesn’t aim to re-invent Counterparts‘ style (something that Murphy admitted himself when they first announced the album), ‘Paradise And Plague’ sees evolutionary flourishes; from the lead guitar trills filling spaces and the track’s soaring chorus, the group deliver variations that push the record further.
The same can be said for ‘Separate Wounds’ – incorporating ambient textures amidst the furious verses, the track brings a fresh soundscape into its chaotic fusion of melody and dissonance.
One of the highlights of the record, ‘Your Own Knife’, displays various incarnations of the group, from its ravenous and pessimistic verses to the thunderous chugging breakdown. Choosing to adopt a chilling and haunting bridge, the song weaves throughout dynamics with ease. The same can be said for follow-up track, ‘Cherished’. Balancing devastating melody and feral distortion, the group craft a beautiful harmony that’s punctuated by scathing guitars.
As the record progresses, it becomes clear that Counterparts have reached a stage in their career where they’ve harnessed a sound that is uniquely their own, as shown on ‘Ocean Of Another’. Mixing bouncing and frantic verses with a chorus that demands to be shouted along to, the group have managed to distil their sound without diluting it.
Ending on the unexpected titular track, raw aggression is traded for clean and contemplative intimacy. Slowly building towards its crescendo, the track utilises clean vocals and restraint to hypnotic results, and, as it reaches its solemn coda, a new chapter of Counterparts arrives, one that displays the band at their peak.
Streamlined and passionate, ‘Nothing Left To Love’ is a record that sees Counterparts maintain their position as one of the leaders of the pack, whilst simultaneously looking at possible new avenues.