American hardcore/hard rock band Beartooth have released their third album. This album is called Disease and it was released via Red Bull Records on the 28th of September.
Beartooth are a band on an ascending wave of popularity, coming off of the back of some very successful releases. They debuted back in 2013 with the EP simply called Sick. A band who like one word titles, they followed that up with their first full length called Disgusting, in 2014. Disgusting really pushed the band into the limelight, seeing them chart in the Top 20 in many rock charts around the world including placing as high as 6th on the US hard rock charts. Topping a successful debut is not an easy task but Beartooth manged it with their 2016 follow up, Aggressive. This time they hot top 5 almost everywhere placing as high as position 2 in the US Indie charts and UK Rock charts.
Beartooth are a 5 piece and have had a few line up changes with band members between albums. In 2018 they are frontman, founder and vocalist, Caleb Shomo. On guitars, we have Kamron Bradbury on rhythm, who joined in 2014, and on lead, Zach Huston, who joined in 2018. Zach replaces original guitarist Taylor Lumley. On the bass it is Oshie Bichar who joined in 2014 and finally, on drums it’s Connor Denis. Connor was a touring member between 2016 and 2018 but is now officially in the band.
Beartooth seem to be a band destined for big things. Despite them being “officially classified” as a hardcore punk band, they have definitely moved away from that sound. You can tell by the charts they do well in what sort of music they are. High positions come in the rock, hard rock and even indie charts. So, I go into listening to Disease a little apprehensive. I know a little of Beartooth’s music and really, it isn’t normally my thing. I find all this stuff a little watery. Highly polished and clean. Radio friendly, commercialised etc….
While none of that is my go to sound, there are plenty of songs in that area that are cool, catchy and fun to listen to so I go into Disease expecting the worst but open to being hooked in. Disease is 12 songs, or 41 minutes, of rock and I was pleasantly surprised by quite a bit of it. I was really pleased to here a couple songs that venture into the hardcore/metalcore stylings more than I thought they would.
Album opener Greatness or Death starts weakly with a dull clean singing section but kicks into a nice, crunching metallic riff and big sounding drum blasts. There are some harsh vocals mixed in with the cleans creating a very enjoyable sound. You even get a decent heavy breakdown. Don’t get me wrong, it still sounds clean and polished but it is nice to be proven wrong (sometimes) and for an opener, it is pretty solid.
More songs that shut me up come in the form of Bad Listener which has a special type of groove to it that just forces you to move. The line “I’ll be banging my head until my brain rots” is cheesy but delivered in a way that makes it seem less so. I imagine this being a real crowd favourite live. The crowd will shout that line and then the music drops and the pit should explode into life. Good song. The track, Enemy, also delivers a wicked breakdown though I am not so keen on the rest of the song.
The best on the album, for me though is Used and Abused. This is a cracking song with some strong bass led groove and crunchy, compact riffing. Dual vocals of clean mixed with harsh work wonders. The whole song is just catchy riff, after infectious hook after enlightening melody. The best of Beartooth.
Outside of those though I am not always so keen. There are songs that have elements I like a lot. The shouted intro to Infection is neat, followed by a catchy riff. Fire has the catchiest vocal line which is simply “Ready, Aim, Fire” but it is delivered in a way, and at a point that has you rewinding a bit so you can sing along to it. Manipulation has one of the catchiest choruses on the whole album. Often these songs fall away though into clean sections I find boring or unimaginative riffs and rhythms.
There are also a couple songs I straight up don’t like at all. I am not a fan of the title track, Disease. This is the watery, hard rock stuff I feared. Clean singing over a melodic intro. A little jump to a harder riff. Clean verses, harsher choruses etc… It has been done so many times, this same old structure and it is predictable and boring to listen to. The same comes with the album closer, Clever. Again, not a bad track, per se, but just one I have heard a hundred times from a hundred different bands. I am also not a fan of the very pop punk, Bowling for Soup esque chorus in Afterall. It just isn’t my thing, really.
What I do appreciate though is music that draws attention to mental health and that is the message consistently conveyed across Disease. Lyrically it offers a message of hope. A light at the end of the tunnel. For that, I give them massive kudos. Over all, with Disease, I have to admit I am pleasantly surprised. The good songs on his album, are really good. Used and Abused is a cracking song. It shows me in that alone why Beartooth are making waves.
Having said that though, while everything is played neatly, sung well etc.. there are some complete stereotypes on here. Some plain, boring, heard it all before hard rock songs. Sure, they will go down a storm in some circles but I think a lot of metal heads will wonder if that is really the best they can do or were they written specifically for air play. Especially when stacked up against the good songs on the album, there is a wide gulf in quality. Overall, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by Disease, though. I expected to hate it and I absolutely don’t. It is a solid album with some missteps but enough hard rocking riffs and forays into “core” to at least partly please all but the most “elite” of us metalheads.
Disease is out now on the normal streaming platforms, like Apple Music and Spotify. Grab a physical copy of Disease from Red Bull Records. Find out more about Beartooth at their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
Disease by Beartooth (Red Bull Records)
The Final Score - 7/10