Artist: Belle Haven
Album: You, Me and Everything In Between
The last couple years have seen a nostalgia-fueled resurgence of sounds and styles forgotten in the late 2000s. This is true of deathcore just as it’s true of the nu-metal-turned-metalcore revival and even, to a point, of good old fashioned metalcore. Revivals of these sounds and styles have dominated the major currents of the underground music sound stream—but those aren’t the only ways our rose-tinted glasses have been getting their fair share of use.
Enter Australian post-hardcore act Belle Haven, who take a style of quick, alternative-infused, mildly poppy post-hardcore and infuse it with the broken hearts and bruised souls associated with early-era The Used and Scary Kids Scaring Kids—you know, the “emo” that still dwells in the recesses of our iTunes music libraries from those unfortunate high-school breakups and breakdowns that made them feel so…personal. Well, on their Greyscale Records debut, You, Me and Everything In Between, Belle Haven take those anthemic choruses and poignant tales of love and loss and rejuvenate them with modern production and mature, contemporary context. The result? A marvelous record that is deeply personal, devastating at times yet beautiful almost entirely—and above all, emotional beyond compare.
Belle Haven don’t waste too much time with errant and out-of-place technicality, nor do they toss in helter-skelter “heavy songs” or breakdowns to make it appealing. Instead, You, Me and Everything In Between feels warm—like a softly lit living room—yet eerie and off-putting, as if maybe you haven’t set foot in that room in years. Familiar but only just, the band’s instrumentation is thoroughly energetic yet still relatively soft on the ears—this is especially true of “The Carving Knife” and its opening portion and chorus. Divided by scathing segments of churning aggression, percussionist Jake Zammit keeps busy and then some, writing bold and bouncy kick drum patterns spiced up with fast hands and fleet fills. Meanwhile, the more headstrong and bold “You,” or “Burn the Witch” see Zammit’s more aggressive side shine through, working with bassist Tom Mitchell to create a murky and muddy low end that circles the listeners feet and holds tight like quicksand. Zammit and Mitchell work together exceptionally to keep You, Me and Everything In Between moving fluidly and quickly, punchy and pissed at points, yet softer and catchier at others. The duo’s dynamic is filled out by guitarists Daniel Marinakis and Christopher Vernon, who create dizzying leads, mesmerizing moments of twinkling ethereality and spine-splitting segments of aggression that are, musically, breakdowns—even if they aren’t the chugga-lugga breakdown that might come to mind. “‘Selfmade’” is one such example where Marinakis and Vernon are ruthless at points, yet create a quick, melancholy chorus that feels like it could have come right out of 2008. With “Burn the Witch” defining Marinakis and Vernon’s heavier end, and “By Hook or By Crook” being entirely absent of their performance, the duo work with Zammit and Mitchell to create a variAbly engaging and diverse soundscape that stands true to Australia’s incredible reputation.
Vocally, the lyrics and voice of frontman David De La Hoz is equal parts chilling and blood-boiling. With ferocious bellows and screams on “You” as well as “Burn the Witch” or “Ghost,” yet the peerless performance on “By Hook or By Crook,” Hoz’s diversity and emotionally laden lyrical prowess is out of question. With a crystalline, clear and talented singing voice paralleled by punishing screams, Hoz is the band’s missing link that likens them to late 2000s alternative and post-hardcore while still bringing mature subject matter to the table. Let’s take the aforementioned “By Hook or By Crook,” for example: and I warn you, going into this song, it may be wise to bring a box of your softest tissue. Hoz’s voice is pain of the purest kind—and his lyrics seem partially written yet partially improvised, conjured by the pure feeling and emotion found in the moment. Truthfully, I don’t know how to describe how this song and the one following—“Ghost”—made me feel, other than the fact that it’s authentic and awe-inspiring.
Perhaps that’s the best way to describe You, Me and Everything In Between: authentic. Rife with feeling that hits harder than a freight train, Belle Haven’s writing is second to none. By the time Hoz yells “Kill me” ad nauseum during “Me,” the listener feels his pain—the pain and loss he spent an entire album detailing. While he—and all of Belle Haven—seem strongly influenced by styles of post-hardcore and metalcore from this decade and last, their sound is thoroughly their own. Moving, melodic, energetic and emotional, You, Me and Everything In Between is a wild ride through love and loss that inspires an incredible array of human feelings without missing a beat.
For Fans Of: Hawthorne Heights, From First to Last, The Used, Scary Kids Scaring Kids
By: Connor Welsh