REVIEW: Counterparts – Private Room [EP/2018]

Artist: Counterparts

Album: Private Room – EP


For years, Counterparts have been a band on the forefront of melodic hardcore/metalcore/pick-a-subgenre—storming across their homeland, Canada, as well as the United States and countless overseas countries, bringing a style of introspective, emotional aggression from which endless artists draw influence, but next to none can imitate.

For years, Counterparts have entered the heads and hearts of listeners around the world, bringing tales and anthems that just about anyone can relate to and learn from. But finally, with Private Room, they turn the tables—they let the listener behind the scenes, into their heads and really, into their hearts. A short three-song sampler of songs that (for whatever reason) didn’t make the cut into their previous release, Private Room is a whirlwind of reckless, rampaging and soul-filled anthems that span Counterparts’ impressive spectrum of emotional-to-eviscerating, with each track boasting a distinct feeling and message, giving fans of Counterparts new, old or somewhere in between something to find themselves lost in as Summer draws to a close.

Private Room is very short—clocking in at seven-ish minutes over three tracks—which means Counterparts don’t have much time to sell you on their product. Fortunately, they don’t need much time; every second of the EP hits hard and fast, using stuttering breakdowns, dissonant chords, dazzling leads and melody aplenty to hook the listener’s attention and prevent it from wriggling free. Percussionist Kyle Brownlee remains central to the band’s dynamic, pummeling away with a balance that is both energetic and precise, especially on “Monument” and “Selfishly I Sink,” where Counterparts use both speed and their own whimsical style of technicality to draw the listener in. Brownlee works hand-in-hand with bassist Tyler Williams, who does an excellent job of adding heft and thickness to Private Room, ensuring that, true, while the band moves at mile-per-minute paces periodically, each segment of each track hits as hard or harder than the last. This is especially true on the opener, “Monument,” which, simply put, hits like the ton of bricks—in part due to Williams’ excellence, but just as much due to the contributions by guitarists Blake Hardman and Adrian Lee. Hardman (which is a sick and fitting last name) and Lee simply shine. Private Room is an amalgam of cuts from the band’s previous album cycles and it does show, much in part to the duo revisiting more melodic and downtrodden atmospheres on the closing track, while the first two are much more frantic and jarring. Hardman and Lee are a huge component in making Counterparts what they are—it was true on You’re Not You Anymore and it’s just as true here.

Then, there’s Brendan Murphy. Murphy—who needs no real introduction—has been the voice of Counterparts since its inception, and the tracks on Private Room sample his contributions to the band in various stages of growth and development. Every track Private Room has to offer (if it hasn’t been made clear already) has a distinct “vibe” to it, and while much of that is due to the instrumental variety within, an equivocal part comes from Murphy’s vocal and lyrical prowess. Take “Monument” for example; an introspective, aggressive and manic sampling of angst-freckled anger. Then, “Selfishly I Sink,” as well as the release’s closing cut, see Murphy riding that tidal wave of tremendous aggression, tapering down to a somber, heart-wrenching conclusion. I don’t think it’s really necessary to go into detail to just how good Murphy is at putting his emotion on display through both songwriting and screaming—at this point, anyone who knows Counterparts knows that all too well—but it is worth noting that Murphy absolutely does not disappoint; even with only three brief tracks, he still shines, delivering a cornucopia of brilliance and bold, relatable lyricism to the listener’s ears on a silver platter.

I wanted to be meaner to Counterparts—not because Private Room is bad, but because upon opening the press email, I felt cheated that it was only three tracks long. I already anticipated the words I’d write before even diving into the record, laden with sarcasm at how Counterparts fell short with a release whose duration was on par with most virgins’ first foray into sexual maturity. Well, turns out, the joke is on me. Counterparts are simply impossible to be mad at—like a lost puppy or an innocent child—because everything they deliver is so genuinely full of passion and power both that it simply cannot be denied. Private Room is just that. Short, but a perfect blend of sweet and sour, bringing heaviness and melody in a way that only these Ontario oppressors can.



For Fans Of: It Dies Today, The Ghost Inside, Varials, Wage War

By: Connor Welsh