There’s an old adage: life leaves no survivors. If you take it literally, it’s true—but the figurative aspect of the age-old saying is much more pertinent to Tuscaloosa titans, Gideon—and their third studio full-length Calloused. As we live our lives, we face countless trials and tribulations, enduring enormous hardships and overcoming obstacles and adversities alike. This does not go without taxation on our minds and bodies—we become tired and sore, bruised, broken and scarred. But with each laceration, every split of the skin and squelch of flesh, we come back stronger, replacing busted and burned out nerve endings with scar tissue, covering our soft skin with tough, scaly callouses. That is what Gideon bring to the table with Calloused: an album fierce enough to propel the listener through the hardest obstacles life has to offer—because it comes from musicians who have lived it, and been there. Calloused is the voice of experience, turning raw rage and rollicking energy into educated, tempered passion.
Gideon are an instrumental hybrid between thrash-friendly riffing and blunt hardcore power—creating a dynamic blend between technique and force that is more driving and rampant than a freight train veering off its wheels. Percussionist Jake Smelly is the main source of straightforward push behind Gideon—as he blazes a bold trail through the thick, intense fretwork of guitarists Daniel McCartney and Tyler Riley. While McCartney and Riley weave intense thickets of fret-burning, metallic riffs, Smelly pushes through, driving each note deep into the listener’s head. “World of Hurt” is a brilliant example—opening with a basic, but catchy, riff that is then pounded into the listener’s head with Smelly’s pummeling percussion. However, low, groovy thrashy riffs aren’t the only goods offered by McCartney and Riley: often times the two harmonize to contrast against Timmy Naughter’s booming bass guitar to create soaring melodies that reach into the listener’s ribcage and lift their soul skyward. The build-up to the climactic breakdown in “World of Hurt” exemplifies this—as does the instrumental track, “The Pulse.” Other tracks rely almost entirely on rough, fierce energy to convey Gideon’s passion; “Momentum” is true to it’s name, soaring right off of the heels of the powerhouse “Prison Eyes” to create a catchy, but crushing experience that blends modern metallic elements alongside the band’s veteran hardcore roots.
All of Gideon’s furious instrumental drive might be for naught—if it weren’t for the outstanding efforts of frontman Daniel McWhorter. McWhorter matches the musical intensity coursing through Calloused pound for pound with soul-filled screams, driving pure emotion and spirit into the listener’s head. Whether it’s the blood-pumping rally before the album’s title track’s climactic breakdown (ideal for those lifting days where the weight just feels heavier than normal) or the banter with Caleb Shomo on “Survive,” McWhorter provides a brilliant, consistent stream of beefy shouts and heart-filled lyrics that fill the listener with warmth and energy. It is through the bold tales of trial and triumph that McWhorter details in every track that Gideon give the listener the strength and steadfast courage to stand tall and face any obstacle in their path: whether it’s the power rack in the corner of the weight room or an army of thousands, the vocal element to Calloused is inspiring enough to make the listener feel like nothing can stop them.
With easily relatable lyrics, emotional delivery and powerful instrumentation driving everything home, Calloused is exactly what the listener would expect to follow Gideon’s past powerhouse releases. Loaded with uplifting clean vocals, raunchy, bone-bending breakdowns and catchy shouts that will get stuck on repeat in the listener’s head, there is plenty to love about Gideon’s third full-length release. Even tracks like “Savage” and “Expose” which seem to fall short compared to the album’s stronger tracks are still hidden gems, bound to get the listener’s blood flowing. Admittedly, portions of Calloused are suckered into the same pitfalls that plagued Costs and Milestone; despite all of the heart and heaviness, there is a lingering musk of monotony that wears the album down after repeated listens. However, few things are bound to motivate the listener more than the first time “Calloused” gives way to “Savage,” lighting the fuse on a powder-keg of passion, power and punchy, driving heaviness that will have the listener’s heart pounding and head banging with equal intensity.
We all have bad days—tough times and seemingly insurmountable obstacles that keep us from enjoying simply living. That’s what Gideon’s Calloused is for—it gives the listener the thick skin and strong heart it takes to push through those obstacles, putting everything into context and reminding the listener that, in the face of adversity, simply living is the greatest victory.
For Fans Of: Hundredth, Counterparts, BENCHPRESS, BackTrack, Expire
By: Connor Welsh