Artist: Somewhere to Call Home
Immediately upon reading this New York metalcore outfits name, the listener is struck with longing; an all-too-familiar sense of listless, desperate wandering. The sensation hits before their music does–which might be why their sound resonates particularly well with fans of the underground nu-infused metalcore circuit—but it gives the listener insight into Haunted that makes it eerie, creepy and familiar while still new and energetic at the same time. The takeaway point? Somewhere to Call Home are a relatively young band who have spent their formative years teasing listeners with periodic singles and skimpy EPs, only to finally deliver the goods with eight tracks of malevolent, misanthropic, murderously heavy metalcore that effortlessly combines groove and gutwrenching aggression. Bouncy and brutalizing all in one, Haunted tells harrowing tales of deadbeat dads, devious acts and deadly depression all in just over twenty minutes, which means that fans of just about any heavy music don’t have an excuse to skip it.
Somewhere to Call Home are a crushing quartet that manages to capture a sprawling display of aggression and intensity—out of proportion to both their age and figurative size. Percussionist Chad Sutliff (percussionist of In Trenches and other New York heavy-hitting acts from yesteryear) uses punchy, straightforward patterns to hammer home a dynamic and ruthless foundation that Haunted uses to build from. Songs like “Beg” and “Loser” highlight this, with the latter renewing focus on the band’s sparse downtempo deathcore influence to pepper in languishing, dreary and sludgy breakdowns between moments of bouncy, energetic metalcore maraudery. “Loser,” especially, sees Sutliff working with bassist Tom Rehor to create a thick low end that slaps the listener upside of the head like a soaking slab of meat. “Haunted,” the album’s title track, is similar in this respect. Even where Sutliff is a bit faster and bouncier, Rehor brings grit and girth to the mix, holding down a dense low end that ensures the heavy moments hit like their supposed to, bringing in an element of contrast to the band’s dynamic. Then, there’s the fretwork from David Scott, whose work—starting on “622,” through “Haunted,” and all the way to the end of “Try Again” and “Orphaned”—ranges from eerie to eviscerating. Often times, Scott uses a high-fretted and jarring lead with a low and groovy rhythm element (“Beg” shows this off well), which, yes, does get a little predictable, but is always effective at bringing the listener something frantic and rejuvenating to bob their head and tap their toes to. Scott’s fretwork doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is fun and catchy, giving Somewhere to Call Home just the hook they needed to get stuck in the listener’s ear.
Somewhere to Call Home’s frontman brings their dynamic to completion, rounding out the instrumentation with shrill shrieks and harsh bellows the same. Alex Wheatley gives a raw, aggressive slant to just about every track that makes up Haunted. “Beg” and the album’s title track do a good job of setting the tone for what Wheatley brings to the table—a strong, ferocious yell that dominates Somewhere to Call Home’s gritty, bouncy, nu-infused style of metalcore. The up side is that Wheatley is consistent without fault—the down side is that his consistency also lends a sense of monotony to Haunted, especially as the album draws to a close. Where “Try Again” and “Loser” are engaging enough to hold the listener’s focus without too much trouble, Wheatley’s vocal element goes from a positive grating to a bordering-on-negative grating, seeming like the moments where he bursts out of his comfort zone are too few and too far between—but when they are there, they’re damn good.
Haunted is an excellent name for Somewhere to Call Home’s debut full-length release. Plagued by lingering whisps of depression, desperation and, of course, devastating brutality, Haunted is an emotional and engaging album that blends energy and intensity excellently. Where, yes, there are moments as the album trudges on that the listener grows weary of the same-y vocal work and the somewhat predictable instrumentation, Somewhere to Call Home are saved by the brevity of their debut effort, putting forth a short, stinging jab of an album that hits hard, hits fast and leaves the listener baffled—haunted—without knowing just what hit them.
For Fans Of: Sworn In, Like Moths to Flames, Barrier
By: Connor Welsh