Album: Dead Thoughts
Negativity has become a plague upon the minds of mankind. It hangs in the air so thick you can see it, so acrid you can taste it coating your tongue. It enters your lungs and dissolves into your bloodstream, poisoning each of your organs until finally, it corrupts the most important facet of your humanity: your spirit. Transcending your mind, breaching the blood-brain barrier and flowing into your soul, negativity corrupts you and all those around you—it fogs your skin like jaundice and obfuscates your vision like a cataract. Every thought that crosses your mind is dark and corrosive—until finally, there is a light. A blinding stream of passion and aggression that slices through negativity’s haze like a hot knife through butter: the debut full-length album by the Floridian force of change, Beacons. Dead Thoughts is a collection of intense, energetic and uplifting tracks that combine the most positive and heart-filled aspects of hardcore with the most dismal and entrenching aspects of death-and-metalcore to create the uniquely heavy experience that Beacons are known for.
If negativity truly is a plague, then Dead Thoughts is it’s antidote—and Beacons’ brutalizing musicianship is its vector. This furious four piece provides an instrumental onslaught which can really only truly be described as intense. Whether it’s the daunting, dark atmosphere that makes “Force Fed” a dissonant masterpiece or the magnificent melody and harmonization that drives “Mourning” straight into the listener’s heart, Dead Thoughts is home to a diverse spectrum of creative and crushing songwriting that fans of Beacons’ previous works are surely familiar with. At the core of the monstrous musical juggernaut that is Beacons rests percussionist Chris Rossey, the band’s steadily beating heart. Rossey is nothing less than a machine, leading in “Force Fed” with deep, looming toms that echo over a kick drum that sounds like someone taking a sledgehammer to a dead cow—all contrasted by the whip-like crack of his snare and splashy fade of his cymbals. His perfectly-tuned kit provides a stellar source for his boundless talent, as he balances lacerating blast beats, brutalizing double-pedal work and flourishing fills with the utmost ease. Rossey’s rambunctious, roaring drumming is the baseline for many of Dead Thoughts’ most crushing moments—like the climactic breakdown to fan-favorite “The Potter’s Field,” or the insanely heavy “SFH.” However, he’s far from a one-trick pony, as Rossey is capable of providing spacious, immense atmosphere on “Mourning” and the opening portion of “Strangled,” which lets guitarists Kyle Carter and Mike Milewski roam from barren fields of brutalizing heaviness to lush gardens of soft, ethereal ambience. Just as Rossey is a dynamic foundation for the band’s intimidating aggression and enthralling harmony, Carter and Milewski are capable of bringing either extreme to life with peerless expertise and marked accuracy. “Brainwashed” is a brilliant example of Carter and Milewski’s penchant for piercing, driving riffs—leaning more towards Beacons’ metallic proclivities, where tracks like the aptly-named “SFH” and “Outcast” are perfect examples of the opposite: beatdown-laced hardcore mastery that is chug-and-groove laden that showcases the guitarists’ great talent without tripping into the pitfall of monotony.
Where musicianship is the vector for Beacons’ broad-spectrum antibiotic against negativity’s nagging, pestilent disease, they serve primarily to deliver the message of vocalist Taylor Bryant. On Beacons’ past release, Bryant has always hinted at talent, but primarily relied on brilliant lyricism and pure, emotional delivery. Just as he shouts “people never change” at the opening of “The Potter’s Field,” it’s obvious that some people do—as Bryant’s vocals are now among the finest in all of heavy music, making him one of the genre’s best frontmen. While his poetic, beautiful lyricism perseveres, and his emotional delivery is only amplified over Endless or Complications, his range has evolved immensely. No longer relying on gruff-and-tough mid-range screams, he can now reach from unfathomable, Tyler Shelton-esque lows to highs that rival the shrieks of Remi Provencher (as they do, indeed, on “Outcast”). “Mourning” is a brilliant example of Bryant’s improvement over Beacons’ past releases, as he delivers raw, heart-felt lyrics that pierce deeply into the listener’s spirit—only to kick the chair out from underneath the listener during the track’s climactic breakdown, beating the listener into submission with fierce bellows that induce prolapse with every syllable. Bryant’s vocals are visceral, carnal perfection—an ideal combination of passion and punishment, smothering the listener with acrid intensity while soothing their soul with bittersweet emotion.
This is where I admit that I’ve been a fan of Beacons for what feels like a lifetime—I had higher hopes for this album than I can put into words. The truth is, Beacons exceeded them all. I’m hesitant to even provide a rating for it because no number can adequately rate the masterpeice Beacons have provided.. Dead Thoughts is the cure that heavy music so desperately needs, as it clings to stagnant messages of over-the-top, barbaric hate and the same-old, same-old heavy-for-the-sake-of-heaviness attitude. Dead Thoughts is ignorant, belligerent heaviness with a purpose, as the band’s jarring, destructive musicianship is done to drive Bryant’s beautiful lyrics and inspiring message deep into the listener’s head—like a sledge hammer hitting a nine-inch-nail through the listener’s skull. “Perceptions” is a beautiful track that illustrates acceptance, tolerance and harmony, while “Brainwashed” is a wondrous tune that inspires the best in the listener, encouraging them to chase their dreams. Just as Dead Thoughts is driven by the darkness and bitterness of mankind’s negative mindset, it proves itself to be that mindset’s very cure, as it is impossible for any fan of heavy music to experience Dead Thoughts without a smile on their face and their heart beating loudly in their chest.
Once more, Beacons do their namesake justice—proving a beacon to heavy acts across the world. Dead Thoughts is exactly the album fans of Beacons’ EPs have been dreaming of, elaborating on the band’s unique style of gut-wrenching heaviness and heart-rending passion while adding new twists and touches to completely shatter the listener’s expectations. With Beacons’ debut full length flooding the listener’s ears, the last thing their thoughts will be is dead.
For Fans Of: Kingmaker, 2×4, Left Behind, Eavesdropper, Traitors, Dealey Plaza
By: Connor Welsh