Album: I Won’t Survive – EP
In 2021, metalcore is in it’s most dynamic, explosive and creative phase yet—an assertion that might spike contention, but is really inarguable when thought about. Never have there been more bands actively contributing to the genre’s already robust catalogue, injecting fresh energy, influence and styles into the mix. Whether it’s the resurgence of “early” metalcore, as metallic riffs clash head-first into panic chords and stuttering breakdowns a la Eighteen Visions or Zao or the bright, flashy, hyper-produced styles following in the footsteps of yester-decades innovators in Attack Attack!, The Browning or the like. Then there’s…well, everything in between—and it’s all getting done to damn-near perfection in 2021. The latest offering from midwestern metalcore act Convictions is no exception. I Won’t Survive is a contemporary, polished and heavy-as-Hell comeback release after the band’s somewhat prolonged silence. Hitting hard with everything from pulverizing breakdowns and scathing grooves while still providing ethereal, uplifting and melodic breaks, Convictions’ latest EP is their strongest, and lends weight to the notion that when many bands are trying harder and harder to be progressive, technical or somehow “metalcore-plus,” it’s still okay to rip some straight up, good ol’ metalcore.
I Won’t Survive may not reinvent the wheel, but it does rejuvenate the tried-and-true “heavy/soft” dynamic that makes metalcore so widely accessible to the masses. From the raunchy out-the-gate banger “The War that Followed Me Home” to the balanced, beautiful “Hurricane,” the band manages to strike an incredible balance between aggression and awe-inspiring beauty throughout their 2021 EP. Built on a foundation of groovy, bouncy percussion and thick—nigh, luscious—fretwork, I Won’t Survive feels full-bodied and powerful while still clocking in under a half hour. Songs like “The War That Followed Me Home” and “Teeth” see the band at their heaviest—with the former crashing like a series of tidal waves into the listener between its hammering percussion and dense chugs separated by spastic fretwork and moments of soothing calm. The latter draws on a distinctly southern (a la Kublai Khan) flair to separate it from the remainder of the release, with brazen riffs segueing into crushing breakdowns with a slightly thrashy atmos. These elements are in sharp contrast to those abundant throughout “Hurricane” and the poetic album closer “Last Cell,” which use soaring, uplifting harmonies and a groovy, strong bass to create moments of shining clarity, cutting through the dense, devastatingly heavy fog that defines a great deal of Convictions’ latest release. The band strike idyllic balance in their instrumentation throughout I Won’t Survive, with each song feeling just different enough to stand out without feeling scattered or as though they’re being overambitious.
Convictions’ varied and engaging musical presence is matched by their vocal elements on I Won’t Survive. The EP packs a remarkably impressive range of screams, shrieks and bellows throughout its modest runtime, with “Teeth” and “The War That Followed Me Home” once more shining in this respect. “Teeth” sees a stunning use of the band’s lower register, while others—“The War…” and “Wreckage” see shrieks and low growls sharing near-equal time in the limelight. On the flipside, however, “The Price of Grace” and “Hurricane” feature the band’s finest moments of singing, with choruses and bridges that stay lodged in the listener’s head for days on end. The same can be said for “The War…,” as, in spite of its raw ggression, the “soft” component to its heavy/soft dynamic is still wholly catchy and engaging, not at all to detract from the otherwise ruthless nature of the track. In this fashion, the band strikes brilliant balance, once more shining where metalcore is concerned.
Convictions have crafted a release that is the perfect picture of solid. While it might not be remarkably innovative, it is fresh, fun and energetic while still serious, thought provoking and immersive. Bouncy, heavy moments throughout the release are sure to inspire a “whoah” from even the most hard-headed of the old heads, while the choruses are about as catchy as a venereal disease. In short, Convictions have pumped a couple liters of fresh life into a style of metalcore that is often overlooked, ensuring that fans of the genre will definitely stop to take in all that this robust EP has to offer.
For Fans Of: Like Moths to Flames, Adestria, One Year Later
By: Connor Welsh