REVIEW: Seconds Alive – Bitter Moments [EP/2015]


Artist: Seconds Alive

Album: Bitter Moments – EP


Life is a miraculous thing. The more you think about it, the more impressed you get—every day on this planet is home to an entire array of experiences that test the development and determination of the human psyche. Each second—all 86,400 of them—can bring a new emotion, attitude and sensation; each its own moment suspended in time. There are beautiful ones and blissful ones, just as there are bad and bitter ones: each of them defining the sound of Exeter-based melodic hardcore act Seconds Alive. Motivated by the bitterness and brooding moments of life to create ones that are jaw dropping and incredible, they bring to the listener their latest EP, Bitter Moments. Passionate, energetic and aggressive, Bitter Moments captures every feeling on the spectrum of human emotion by clashing crushing breakdowns into sullen, somber patches of dreary instrumentation and spectacular climaxes that flood the listener with color and warmth. Make no mistake, Bitter Moments is a beautiful release that goes down smooth and sweet.

Bitter Moments is home to an unbelievable, beautiful soundscape that flows from rolling, momentous moments of driving hardcore to flat plains of ethereal, drifting calm. This diverse soundscape is all made possible by the earthy, solid percussion provided by Rach Adams. Adams leads an awe-inspiring onslaught using a meaty kick drum and looming, deep toms contrasted by a sharp snare and splashy cymbals to provide the firmament from which Bitter Moments can bloom. “Red Blood” sees Adams frantic, hammering the track into the listener’s head like a sledgehammer hooked up to a jackhammer. However, the placidity of “Speechless,” as well as the closing moments of “Jenna” sees Adams more relaxed, focusing on providing atmosphere and angst rather than awe-worthy aggression. Alongside the deeper, darker aspects of Adams’ kit writhes the muddy, deep grooves of bassist Rich Earle. Earle provides even more earthy, gritty detail, providing a firm anchor for Seconds Alive no matter their mood. Even during the moments of dissonant drift in “Jenna,” Earle is popping and plonking away, keeping the song from floating into the aether. Where Seconds Alive truly take flight is within the furiously fretted riffs from guitarist James Hosgood. Hosgood’s fretwork is home to crushing, fierce chugs–a la “Where Are You Going With This?” And “Red Blood”—but opens up during the shred-tinted grooves within “Drawing the Line” and the ever-emotive “Jenna.” Hosgood provides instrumental diversity and depth where Seconds Alive might otherwise fall flat or sound hollow—making Bitter Moments bold and beautiful where he truly lets loose.

Thrilling as Seconds Alive’s soundscape is, true immersion into the enthralling EP Bitter Moments is found pouring from the throat of vocalist Robbie Doran. Doran’s harsh, gritty yell perfectly mirrors his rough-around-the-edges lyrical style and compromising emotional exposure. Doran lets the listener into his head and heart—with lyrics like those in “Jenna” hitting the listener like a ton of bricks, and those in “Where Are You Going With This?” showcasing his angst with expertise. Doran’s emotional expose doesn’t limit itself to instances of personal weakness and sorrow: “Red Blood” speaks to his conviction towards equality, and his frantic, severe shouts back his words with stunning strength. While Doran’s vocal styles may not be the most diverse, they add integrity and intense emotion to Seconds Alive’s dynamic—making them incredibly successful. What’s more thrilling is their intelligibility, allowing the listener to know exactly what Doran’s saying, even though his languished screams already convey what he means.

Seconds Alive are a stellar and synchronized quartet—something that doesn’t seem to happen too often in the realm of emotional hardcore. Doran and the trio of musicians behind him work together in incredible harmony to create immersive instances of raw, heart-felt emotion. Bitter Moments is not polished—there is no glitz, nor are there any frills. What it has is heart. Adams hammers away with every ounce of strength there is to give, as Hosgood and Earle unleash hell on the listener with everything from hectic, raunchy breakdowns to gripping atmosphere that sucks air from the listener’s lungs and weakens their knees. Finally, there is Doran stop it all. If the closing portion of “Jenna” doesn’t get stuck in your head and swell the walls of your heart, you probably don’t have a heart left to engorge. Doran’s gripping performance is the cherry atop a small but sincere cake of comprehensive hardcore.

If you’re not sure what it means to be alive, give Bitter Moments a chance to teach you. Rife with aggression, passion and emotion for days, Seconds Alive have served up the Human condition on a silver platter—It’s just up to the listener to dig in.



For Fans Of: Heart in Hand, The Ghost Inside, Architects, Hrbrs

By: Connor Welsh