Album: A Lunar Rose
Several years ago, Australian metalcore powerhouse Saviour released a record that would redefine the blend between emotional hardcore and raw, raunchy metalcore. First Light to my Deathbed was that record—and while the band’s formal resurgence came as the markedly different (but very good) Let Me Leave, fans of the band’s more aggressive roots were left wanting—that is, until now. Lunar Rose sees Saviour creating something raw and punishing, yet poignant and passionate, and what’s more, it flows and feels like a relative sequel to the themes abundant in First Light to my Deathbed. Even without comparing the two, A Lunar Rose is a remarkable record, expertly blending aggression and emotion, using catchy vocal hooks to contrast moments of bleak, dismal heaviness. Catchy, crushing, creative and remarkably soulful, Lunar Rose is as beautiful as the name might imply, with all the pain that might come from getting caught on Saviour’s thorns.
In the context of Saviour’s recent releases, A Lunar Rose gains newfound meaning as the album’s title. Relative to Let Me Leave, A Lunar Rose is a much darker, heavier and forlorn record—and simultaneously, it manages to be much more beautiful and breathtaking, much as a lunar rose glimpsed after nightfall takes on a more brilliant hue. From the beginning of “Lunar,” this newfound resolve and ruthlessness catches the listener’s ear, with low, grinding bass rumbling a foreboding lead into a spastic, crushing breakdown that lays down the foundation for the remainder of Saviour’s scintillating release. Songs like “Never Sleep” and “Souvenir” echo this dark, brooding atmosphere, as does “The City” and “Enemies”—all songs featuring punishing percussion amplified by booming bass that allows for harsh, metallic leads to carve scars into the listener’s skin. While this isn’t necessarily new to metalcore—or even new to Saviour—the refreshing vigor with which the band languishes the listener with aggression and heaviness is nothing short of jaw dropping. Songs like “Enemies” and “Never Sleep” pull this off brilliantly, serving as excellent callbacks to some of First Light to My Deathbed’s heavier sections (“Jaded” comes to mind). However, if you’re familiar with Saviour, you know that aggression and brutality are far from the best parts about the band’s take on metalcore. Many songs throughout A Lunar Rose feature the same moments of ethereality and atmosphere—or even downright catchiness—that make the band unique. “Calendars,” as well as “The City” and even the aforementioned “Never Sleep” all boast choruses or bridges that see smooth, serene fretwork dance across steady, solid drumming with buttery bass to fill in the space. This dynamic between raw, primal aggression and stunning instrumental serenity takes the Saviour the listener knows and loves and steps it up a notch.
Saviour’s vocal element has always been the root of their emotional appeal—since the early entries into their storied discography, the dynamic between gritty, raw screams and beautifully sung vocals has added heart-wrenching soul and emotion into their backbone of brutalizing metal. This trend not only continues on A Lunar Rose, but damn near reaches its apex. “Never Sleep” very quickly establishes itself as a lyrical and vocal powerhouse, however “Enemies” showcases aggression with the same prowess that “Calendars” and “Rose” highlight the band’s cleanly sung element. Then, there are songs like the album closer, “Pixelated,” which pulls out all the stops to create a simply jaw-dropping climactic closure to the record. A Lunar Rose is a juggernaut when it comes to lyrics, and the dynamics between the vocal elements are the best they’ve ever been for Saviour—but with that said, there are some moments (“Souvenir” comes to mind) where the dynamic seems flatter than it does elsewhere, and the listener is left with a lull between moments of magnificence. That’s rare, and ultimately doesn’t detract from the release, but is worth noting all the same.
A Lunar Rose is a beautiful record, laden with jarring breakdowns and moments of jaw-dropping serenity alike. Whether it’s soulful choruses that stay stuck in your head or breakdowns that hit hard enough to cave your chest in, Saviour have brought it to the table on A Lunar Rose. While it is a return to form in many ways, and even stepping above and beyond that in other ways, Saviour have proven there’s still just that little bit more until Saviour have created a magnificent record as glimmering and idyllic—yet sharp and abrasive as a rose itself.
For Fans Of: Make Them Suffer, Lock and Key, Northlane
By: Connor Welsh