Manchester newcomers Only The Righteous have a clear objective, and it’s one that they’re successfully realising. The question is, whether they should be aiming much higher?
What, in some ways, is a musically competent, well-produced debut release is also a remarkably bland and uninspired batch of almost instantly forgettable material. ‘Severance’ is a victory lap of all tried and tested metalcore by way of post-hardcore tropes that were prevalent in the mid-noughties. Everything from the gang vocals and breakdowns to the juxtaposition of heavy and clean sections makes an appearance. Feeling almost like a musical time capsule buried in 2007, these songs seem to be void of identity.
While the performances are on point, with tight, groove-laden passages, and interesting guitar leads scattered throughout, the songwriting itself leaves much to be desired. When performing within the confines of an already stagnating genre, a band truly need to work towards crafting a sound that is inherently their own, because if there’s nothing new to bring to the table, what’s the point? Only The Righteous are glorifying a decade old style which has already reached peak genericism. Heading into 2020, it’s simply not good enough. There needs to be more ingenuity.
For a debut, the competency is impressive, and there’s evident heart within these tracks. James Barnes‘ passionate vocals bear an endearing vulnerability, echoing the likes of Comeback Kid, while his cleans are both soaring and controlled. The standard fare lyrics are, however, yet another example of a lack of any unique voice overshadowing all skill displayed.
Segues between the chugging verses and melodic choruses are incredibly clunky; lacking any trace of nuance or subtlety. There’s a delicate balance in this particular style that even stalwarts of the genre like A Day To Remember and The Devil Wears Prada struggled to nail consistently.
What’s more alarming than the lack of cohesion between the conflicting styles is that the band perform both with clear ability, leading one to wonder why not just plant a flag in one specific territory? Rather than continuing these stale attempts to rope genre tropes together.
While exuding a vast amount of potential on ‘Severance’, Only The Righteous must strive to look beyond their immediate influences, as this fledgling ‘pop-core’ style needs to be left in this decade. With any luck, the group, going forward, will utilize their clear ability to pursue and craft a sound that is entirely their own.