Album: Good Intentions
Everyone knows the saying “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” It’s become infamous, often used to marginalize those who intend to do with out actually doing. However, as a result, intentions themselves—best laid plans and what not—are simply tossed under the bus without second thought, amounting the only real value in life to action and not thought. Wittgenstein once wrote that “…without intent, action is tantamount to chaos.” So those intentions—those plans and emotions and promises—they hold weight, and they especially hold weight if the Good Intentions being described happens to be the debut full-length record by East Coast metalcore outfit Downswing. The result of nearly two years of silence, hard work, and some member, style and genre re-workings, Good Intentions is Downswing as they’ve never been heard before, juxtaposing catchy hooks and melancholy melody against gritty, raw breakdowns and brazen riffs, combining the most energetic and intense aspects of traditional and contemporary metalcore alike. While Good Intentions might not be the East Coast Trash that listeners recall from the band’s Rise Records debut, it is a raunchy and immensely fun record—and above all, it remains evidence that Swingstyle is still swingin’.
Good Intentions captures the most memorable moments of the band’s debut and includes them in a relentless soundscape that is one of the most balanced, diverse and immersive straight-up metalcore records 2020 has seen. From the get-go with “Fate,” Downswing make it evident that they haven’t lost the sharp, lacerating edge that put them a cut above their contemporaries. However, as “Fate” fades into the title track—and in songs like “Despair,” “Breaking Point” and “Alibi”—the band’s addition of more melodic and catchier elements comes into play. “Good Intentions” sees this done exceptionally well, with pummeling percussion and a bone-shaking bass line underlying raw, bold riffs that segue smoothly into a chorus so catchy, you’d think it was right out of 2008. Meanwhile, “Despair”—one of the band’s longer cuts—carefully strides the line between atmosphere and aggression, with some of the more memorable examples of each throughout the track. “Carbon Copy” takes things a different route, as does the closing track “Pain Over Pleasure,” where Downswing’s more bitter and aggressive side once more takes dominion, as crushing drumming batters the listener hither and to while jarring fretwork roars alongside. The band’s instrumental dynamic is defined by this—a new take on the “heavy/soft” classic—using raw hardcore elements and allowing them to shine through, adding a bright contrast against the band’s more overt melodic and metallic influence.
Where Good Intentions takes another drastic turn from the band’s early efforts is with the vocal element Downswing let loose. While “Fate” guides the listener into a place of heavy-handed, hard-hitting comfort, “Good Intentions” is the first of many tracks to use unfiltered, heartfelt singing alongside a barrage of gritty, bitter screams. This dialectic amplifies the efficacy of Downswing’s instrumental tactics, giving the catchier—bordering on poppy—elements more depth (and appeal) without sacrificing Downswing’s devastatingly heavy hardcore and metalcore marriage. “Despair” is an amazing example of this—aided by Dealer’s Aidan Holmes—where “Carbon Copy” sees a rare and absolutely ruthless appearance by The Acacia Strain’s Vincent Bennett. Bennett and Holmes both add much needed vocal variety to the heavier elements of Good Intentions, breaking up some potential for monotony that might have developed entering the middle stretch of the record. In truth, while Downswing uses a variety of vocal styles throughout the record, diversity within those styles remains slightly underpowered—something saved by two immense guest vocal appearances, both lending something unique and memorable to their respective tracks that almost instantly make them favorites.
Good Intentions is more than just a collection of nice thoughts or “coulda-woulda” ideas. Good Intentions is, in earnest, action-packed. Energetic, heavy as Hell and catchier than The Clap, the wait for Downswing’s return was well worth the end result, as yet another young and hungry band proves that with the best of intentions and a fire lit squarely under their collective ass, they’re capable of running with the genre’s big dogs.
For Fans Of: Kublai Khan, Born A New, Degrader, Hounds
By: Connor Welsh