Currents – The Death We Seek [2023]

Artist: Currents
Album: The Death We Seek

Every so often, a band’s name fits their sound and style perfectly—whether they do it justice or the other way around, their name creates a prophecy that seems idyllically filled by the music they create. I can think of few bands that exemplify this as well as Connecticut-based metalcore act, Currents. Constantly dynamic; ebbing, flowing and growing stronger with each phase of the moon, over their decade-long discography, the band have grown into titans within the genre, boasting they—like water—can conform to any container, or shatter it violently. The Death We Seek epitomizes this. Following the band’s second and considerably more timid full length release, The Way It Ends, Currents’ 2023 record is one that sees their tide shift, favoring the cacophonous juxtaposition of ruthless aggression and soaring melody that made them into a genre standard on The Place I Feel Safest. Laden with memorable moments, soaring leads laced with technicality, immensely relatable lyrics and spine-crushing breakdowns, The Death We Seek is Currents doing what they do best for forty consecutive minutes without filler.
Since their inception, Currents have been an instrumental powerhouse, defined by dizzying percussion and masterful fretwork. As the band have matured, so has their ability to demonstrate this—gone are the days of the in-your-face aggression of “Hanging by a Thread” or the frantic chugging of “Derelict” in favor of a more balanced and engrossing experience. From the opening seconds of “The Death We Seek,” Currents blend their penchant for outright aggression and anguish beautifully with a more melancholic atmosphere. As the album’s introductory and title track is an example of them at their most brazen, “Unfamiliar” and “Remember Me” see them playing more towards their softer and more delicate elements while still leaving the edges rough and jagged. Here, guitarists Chris Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi create an uneasy, deceptive serenity with cleanly picked notes overlaying a dissonant, chugging undertone—a stark contrast from “Vengeance” and “Living in Tragedy,” where the two swing at the listener like two twenty-pound sledgehammers. Their low chugs and brooding grooves are amplified by Christian Pulgarin’s punishing, low bass. Weaving between Wiseman’s leads and Castaldi’s support, Pulgarin adds a heft to the band’s dynamic that is most apparent when the band’s breakdowns strike. While Currents’ fretwork is tremendous, it would also be remiss to omit the band’s drumming—brought about by Matt Young. Young’s range covers everything from tastefully blackened blast beats to rambunctious, groovy double kick patterns and more, even playing to the band’s more radio-friendly side on “Unfamiliar.” Young works excellently with Wiseman et al to provide the band’s sense of instrumental diversity, and together, they create a sprawling, all-encompassing dynamic, the likes of which is rare in contemporary metalcore.
Frontman Brian Wille plays against Currents’ instrumental diversity beautifully throughout The Death We Seek, completing their ability to effortlessly transition between ruthless, reckless abandon and a sullen, somber state of introspection. Where The Way It Ends saw Wille experimenting more with an approach that favored singing and soaring melodies, The Death We Seek feels a little more in line with the Wille that brought us I Let the Devil In, masterfully including his outstanding, strong roar and piercing mid-range scream. “The Death We Seek” is perhaps the best example of his range of screamed and shouted vocals, and stands as one of his best overall contributions to Currents’ outstanding discography—but this doesn’t mean he slacks throughout the duration of the record. “So Alone” sees him crafting a stunning chorus that builds into a crushing display of vocal mastery. The album’s groovy, balanced closer, “Guide Us Home” stands as an excellent example of him blending just about all the styles of his work throughout the record into a stunning conclusion. While you won’t find trendy vocal styles or animalistic snarls on The Death We Seek, you will find one of contemporary metalcore’s overall strongest and most diverse performances in recent history.
While The Way It Ends was a strong record, you’ve probably picked up that it wasn’t my favorite—which had me anxious for The Death We Seek, despite a strong start with several outstanding singles. I’ll avoid using “return to form,” because Currents never lost their form, but if you were a fan of the band’s darker, heavier atmos, then you will have plenty to love about The Death We Seek. Refining their sound and drawing from the different elements that made their previous several releases stand out, The Death We Seek is a strong contender for the band’s finest work yet—and a stronger still contender for one of the year’s top metalcore offerings. Balanced, yet unafraid to be brutal enough to bash a skull in, yet calm enough to lull the listener out of a blistering bloodlust, The Death We Seek is an exploration of all the traumas that impact the human condition, and a stunning addition to Currents’ incredible discography.

For Fans Of: Fit for a King, Invent Animate, Like Moths to Flames, Of Virtue
By: Connor Welsh