Album: Hell From Here
Everyone in life endures struggles—big, small, simple or complicated—and while not all are equal in magnitude, nearly all individuals are equal in that they do have a fight they’re fighting. But think about the times without struggle; the moments of serenity that separate the strife defining our lives. If you’re lucky, you can unwind—find some wellspring of inner calm and let it enfold you.
But if not, you’re like everyone else—stuck knowing the hell you’ve survived is the same hell that awaits you. Your wellspring is one of nervous energy and anticipation. Your wellspring sounds a lot like Hell From Here, the sophomore full-length record from Western metalcore warriors, Distinguisher. A cavalcade of catchy choruses and crushing breakdowns spiced up by sinister grooves and skin-slicing riffs, Hell From Here is, simply put, enormous. Distinguisher take everything that has made them a recognizable name in the heavy music community and step it up, pulling away from the pack and creating what stands to be one of—if not the—greatest metalcore records of 2019.
Hell From Here is an immensely energetic record, which is high praise coming off of Distinguisher’s already-impressive energy, abundant on What’s Left of Us. From the opening salvos of “Actuality,” through the lead single “Lucy” and all the way until the dregs of closing cut “Black Breath,” Distinguisher keep hammering the listener with track after track of unstoppable energy. “Split” might be the single best example of that on the record, starting off with one of the coolest breakdown’s you’ll hear all year, and then ending with one of the heaviest. On this track—and the entirety of Hell From Here, drummer Jacob Barsoum shines. Barsoum’s skillset is well known within the metalcore underground, but on Hell From Here, he (in keeping with the band’s collective effort) steps it up several more notches. “Actuality” sees him dizzying the listener with fast hands and flashy fills, while “Cycle” and “No Luck” are examples of how he can add fleet footwork to even the sludgiest and most lurid breakdowns. All the while, he works brilliantly with bassist Brad Cornelius and guitarist Josh Bearden to ensure that each song is balanced, with the percussion being prominent without feeling over-the-top or overbearing. Likewise, Bearden takes a similar approach with his fretwork—once more, we turn to “Split,” where he adds flair throughout the entire track without any one section being too “shred-heavy” such that it would detract from Distinguisher’s overall dynamic. Bearden adds bold, thick grooves throughout the entire release, with the finale, “Black Breath,” serving as the cut where he shows off the most. Here, Bearden’s work is bright, cutting through the abysmal, aggressive atmosphere of the track to add punch to what might otherwise be a lack-luster finish. Instead, Bearden’s work—springboarding off of Cornelius’ crushing bass—makes “Black Breath” a strong contender for Hell From Here’s best track—a subjective finding, however, as just about every song on Hell From Here is up to snuff with an immensely high-set bar.
Where Distinguisher have changed most from What’s Left Of Us isn’t necessarily in their energy or dynamic, but rather, in their lineup. I’m referring, most explicitly, to their new frontman, Nick Chance. Chance’s first go-round as the band’s frontman is nothing short of a prodigal success, bringing out the absolute best in each and every track that Hell From Here has to offer. Hitting everything from a grisly bellow to a shrill scream, Chance’s work is consistent—and more importantly—keeps up with the high-energy setting that defines Distinguisher’s latest effort. Songs like “Lucy” are catchy, and see Chance stepping outside of his comfort zone, whereas “Split” is a barn-burner, built on pure aggression. The take-away is that where Distinguisher had the most room for error is likely where they have had the most growth and success, as Chance—working with Bearden at times—brings out a whole new aspect to Distinguisher’s multifaceted dynamic that is bound to appease old fans and win over new ones without a doubt.
At the risk of abusing a low-hanging pun opportunity, Hell From Here is where Distinguisher really Distinguish themselves. While their debut EP was fun and their debut full-length was a monstrous leap forward, Hell From Here sees the band truly come into their own and create a sound, style and experience that feels truly organic to the band as a whole. Catchy without sacrificing aggression or energy, Hell From Here is a record fans of any style of heavy music need to be on the lookout for.
For Fans Of: Extortionist, Born a New, Degrader, Weeping Wound
By: Connor Welsh