Album: You’re Not You Anymore
When Canadian quintet Counterparts announced their latest full-length release, You’re Not You Anymore, they did so by claiming it to be a balanced display of the styles captured on each of their previous releases—a bold claim to say the least. With a star-studded discography and a following rabid for the band’s blend of heartfelt sincerity and hellish heaviness, the group wrote a chunky check that had me—and others—skeptical as to whether their forthcoming effort could cash.
Now, having heard it, I don’t even know why I was skeptical in the first place.
You’re Not You Anymore is, indeed, exactly what Counterparts claimed—but it’s also so much more. With poignant and personal lyrics underscores by unbelievable aggression and tremendous energy, You’re Not You Anymore is more than just a mashup of the band’s past efforts; it’s their greatest release to date. Catchy, creative, emotional and eviscerating all in eleven songs and twenty eight minutes, this album is one that takes the burning, blistering heat of the summer and transitions it into the cool, melancholy demeanor of fall better than any other.
Whether it’s the uproarious percussion that defined Prophets tracks like “The Reflex Tester,” or the driving, frantic and noisy guitars that soared throughout the entirety of The Difference Between Hell and Home, there are elements of everything that makes Counterparts Counterparts within You’re Not You Anymore. From the first seconds of “Boquet,” coming in hot off of the feedback-fueled introductory snippet “Walk Away Slowly,” percussionist Kyle Brownlee bustles his way across his kit with practiced, precise and punchy energy. A relatively new addition to the band, Brownlee fits right in, giving Counterparts the quick and crushing foundation they need to steamroll the listener beneath mesmerizing riffs, grisly grooves and churning, skin-splitting breakdowns. “No Servant of Mine” sees Brownlee’s percussion at its most straightforward, a solid series of patterns that give the song the backbone it needs for bassist Tyler Williams to work around and build up. Then, there are raunchy songs like “Thieves,” wherein Brownlee’s brutalizing percussion and Williams’ megaton bass serve as a ruthless low-end for the darker, dismal riffs and climactic, album-defining breakdowns created by guitarists Blake Hardman and Adrian Lee. Counterparts work as a brilliant and cohesive unit, but it’s Hardman and Lee who truly make them a band that blends genres in a fashion few can even fathom. Combining the mathy, manic tendencies of bands like Napoleon with the no-holds-barred aggression that gives the band a sturdy emphasis under their core suffix, Hardman and Lee run the gambit from gritty and earthy to floral, vibrant and exotic. “Thieves” sees one end of this spectrum—the heavier end—while “You’re Not You Anymore” and “Swim Beneath My Skin” are more moderate examples of the duo blending styles hither and to. “Boquet” continue the trend—using driving drumming and a bold bass to enforce their artful, awe-inspiring fretwork.
Counterparts’ instrumentation has always done an excellent job at helping the band stand out among their peers—combining melody and manic mayhem expertly. However, for all their musical excellence, perhaps the greatest allure to Counterparts’ melancholy maelstrom pours forth from frontman Brendan Murphy. As the founding member, wordsmith and vocal powerhouse behind the act, You’re Not You Anymore is his baby; a beautiful, strong and stellar one at that. On the group’s latest full length, Murphy’s vocals are at their peak, combining the pain of loss, the bitterness of continued existence and the aggression that comes from a lifestyle steeped in cynicism into one range. This is evident from the first poignant lines of “Boquet,” just as it rings true in “Thieves,” where Murphy uses a lower portion of his register to add girth to his gut-wrenching lyrics and outright bitterness. Then, however, there songs like the album’s titular track, or “Fragile Limbs,” where Murphy’s poetic side shines—just as it does on the introspective and intense “Rope.” I could go on for another paragraph, detailing Murphy’s unparalleled success on You’re Not You Anymore, but it’d be best to summarize: prior to this album’s release, Murphy’s only real competition when it comes to combining power and passionate, heartfelt emotion was…well, him, and on You’re Not You Anymore, still manages to surpass his own lofty reputation and previous efforts.
Counterparts are a band who have built an empire with a unique sound and immensely appealing ability to convey emotion and aggression hand-in-hand. Catchy, punchy and meaningful without slacking on hard-hitting content and fun, You’re Not You Anymore is a record ripe with the fruit of hard work, love, loss, desperation, trial and tribulation. At the end of it all, Counterparts set bold aspirations for themselves and came out on top—not just on top of their own immense discography, but of the heavy music scene as a whole.
For Fans Of: Hundredth, The Ghost Inside, Knocked Loose, Gideon, Varials
By: Connor Welsh